ARE YOU GOING TO SAN FRANCISCO?

TO SAN FRANCISCO? I wish. But no. No immediate plans. Bramhall’s my patch for the present. But some day. Some way. Because somehow St Gregory of Nyssa’s Church in San Francisco lives and listens and speaks with and about the kind of words I’m constantly wanting to say. And do. And Grace Cathedral too. Church Times’ front page photo of a celebration of the Eucharist at St Gregory’s represents for me the glorious hotch-potch of loved and redeemed humanity that is my own life’s prayer and perpetual dream. And there’s a big chunk of an extract of Sara Miles, author of Jesus Freak: Feeding, healing, raising the dead. 

Worship and service were part of a whole; the Friday food pantry and the Sunday eucharist were just different expressions of the same thing. Well meaning Christian visitors liked to describe the pantry as a “feeding ministry”, but that just seemed like a nervous euphemism to me. What I saw was church: hundreds of people gathering each week around an altar to share food and to thank God. And then, on Sundays, in the very same space, communion. The priest and whoever else was serving that day – a woman with cancer, a fussy older guy, a serene, angelic seven year old boy in shorts – would lift the plates of fresh bread and cups of wine, and turn, showing the food to the people standing pressed close around the big, round table in the middle of the sanctuary …

These words, and this photo, and these films speak to me of the God of Life whose own freedom has granted humankind its own. Freedom to explore. Freedom to become whole and holy in and amongst the hotch-potch of communities filled with people of every shade and hue and opinion and creed under the sun and stars. Freedom in which hospitality and generosity are extended to all. Am I going to San Francisco? Well, whether on earth, or the San Francisco in heaven, some day, I pray. And in the morning here in Bramhall? There will be alimentos gratis – the free food of Divine Love – in Eucharist at 8, 9 and 10.45am – and during the course of these celebrations, by the Grace of God, six children will be baptised …