Greenbelt left me thinking.
There’s nothing unusual in that, but I was a little surprised that the thoughts came from connecting a few seemingly disparate talks on inter-faith, ecology, disestablishing the church of england, mental health and the nature of englishness in a post-olympic britain.
The big question might be
‘Has church become disconnected from communities, the story of faith and our own traditions and rituals? If it has, what impact does that have on how we worship, live and engage with the world?’
That really is a big question with lots of parts so I’m going to try to explore it over the next while and see what connections there are and if there are any lessons I might learn.
Let’s start at the beginning. The thoughts as they occured were:
- In our inter-faith engagements are we vulnerable enough to hear the insights of others about out traditions and to engage with theirs and learn from them?
- With regard to ecology and our decimation of the planet, what role do we play as those charged with stewardship of the planet? More specifically, what link does that have with worship when, for example, harvest has become a place to thank God for tesco and collect tins of food rather than a chance to be connected to the places and people who grow food and to think about how that happens and if it is just?
- It struck me (again) that we have stepped quite far away from our own spiritual practices, like fasting in Lent, from the deeper rhythm of the Christian year and the big story of God. For example, when we celebrate communion I’m fairly sure that most people don’t know the wider context of that. Can this week’s gospel (John talking more about blood and flesh) be understood without knowing about Passover and the Levitical laws and kosher practice. But we are not Jews and because the canon closed 2,000 years ago do we see ourselves as separate from that story. I wonder if most people really believe that God has said anything since John’s revelation? How does that isolation from the story affect us?
- There are bigger questions about what community is and what role the church plays in that. What role does the church have in nation, in politics and how can and should it speak to power?
- Does church maintain the status quo? We talk a good game about transformation and renewal but are we organisationally set up to avoid it?