Back in Liverpool after a wonderful week away.
The first half of the week we stayed with friends from our time at college. It was great to just be able to spend time together. One day was very wet, and spent at the RAF museum at Hendon (some great insights into spiritual warfare, which I might post some time); the next hot and dry, and spent picnicking in style.
The second half of the week was spent in Sheffield, very relaxing, catching up with lots of friends, including celebrating Jo’s birthday with three homemade cakes over two days; and culminating in being at Philadelphia to witness several people make their temporary vows (3-year initial or novitiate vows) or permanent vows (can be taken after 3 years, or within a further 3-year period) within The Order of Mission (Jo and I became temporaries in 2003, and permanents in 2007). It was great to see various TOM friends, scattered across various countries over a number of years, there, as we were, for the occasion. It was also great to meet people who had come from USA and Scandinavia for Pilgrimage (and really encouraging to see the Lutheran churches commitment to ordaining young adults to serve as church leaders).
The journey home was spent listening to Pete James’ new album, Dreams, Reality And Everything In Between. All three of our children love it, Pete – especially the heavier/retro rock tracks. Particular favourites are the opening call to worship ‘Come Everybody Let’s Go’ and the creed ‘We Believe.’ Regardless of whether or not one likes the style, the substance is significant here. Too often, churches are seeking to be so ‘normal’ an experience for the unfamiliar visitor that we forget why we gather at all – not primarily to meet with friends, but to meet, together, with God who welcomes us into his house. We need the call to worship to form within us the reason we are there; to become a well-worn path (familiarity breeds contempt in the one who is contemptuous; but it nurtures confidence and competence – identity and authority – in the one who loves because they know that they are loved). And we need creeds, to carry for us and to form within us the faith the church has professed down through the ages. Too often, where churches have decided that written/corporately-spoken liturgy is culturally inappropriate, they have failed to do the work of translating liturgy into what would be considered culturally appropriate forms. The consequence is Christians who no longer know what Christians believe, who have no foundation to build on. So thank you, Pete, for the work you have put in here.