please click once to enlarge Round Table photos: twice to enlarge further
MANY OF US speak of “round table conversations” easily and routinely. With great delight we've received the “hardware” to facilitate precisely such conversations into the wonderfully remodelled Reception at Bramhall St Michael & All Angels today. Treske of Thirsk have fabricated a strikingly beautiful round table in oak (photo slides), to comfortably seat 12. It's deliberately placed and illuminated in the centre of our parish office / Reception – the day to day business hub of our parish life.
There's room for weekday masses – Tuesday mornings at 9.15am and Thursdays at 6.15pm. Here we encounter and nourish our lives with God's gift of the “lehem” – the “bread” and / or the “understanding” of life, in the midst of the daily business; and respond joyfully to the subsequent “sending out” – Ite, missa est – dismissed for the apostolic mission, the apostolic loving and healing, in, and to, and for, the ordinary, everyday hearts and lives of ourselves, and of all people, at all times, and in all places. When we're at table with, and as, members of “the Body of Christ”, we learn, and rejoice in the fact that holy communion, the eucharist, the mass – is not so much about calling people into the churches, as about sending people out of churches, into the glorious wide world – the “Barque of Peter”, if you like, sailing, with enthusiasm (from-God-ness), upon the oceans of life. Have a look at the inspirational and inspirited story of the Edward King Chapel at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, Oxford – pdf here
And there's room here, too, for folding pew sheets and newsletters, and for soup and bread and cheese, and for the real-deal business of discipling, communion, conversation, eucharistia, or “thanksgiving”, learning, prose and poetry – accessible space, inviting Grace. And there's a cross – a positive sign – engraved in the very centre …
The life of the Spirit in 5 American Poets is to be the subject of an address I will give, at Bramhall Methodist Church, on Wednesday 9th April from 2.30-4pm. The life of the Spirit in the poetry of St Michael & All Angels, (already written, already published, prayed, loved, or yet-to-be-written-in-us, or on paper), will be celebrated, I hope, in dozens of different ways, and on dozens of different days, as months and years roll by, in these exciting years of renewal in the life of the Church in the World. In the midst of many and great causes for frustration, disappointment, and sometimes even despair, in our building up God's liberating reign in the world (all experienced by Jesus of Nazareth and his own band of disciples, learners, like us) – we can celebrate God's art, at one and the same time – in poetry and in prose, in silence and in song, in a million different craftsmanships, in human growth and development, and in what the Church, the Body of Christ, is really here for, what we exist and pray for: nudging God's entire creation towards finding its most authentic voice.
Canon Professor Martyn Percy's hope-filled piece in the Church Times last week has stayed with me. It will doubtless be read, and re-read, at our new round table. Here's the final paragraph, something we'd do well to emblazon, I propose, at the masthead of every parish Growth Action Plan:
By welcoming some teachers, poets, and prophets among our leadership, who point us imaginatively and compellingly, to Christ, we might yet discover an even richer, more effective purpose in our mission. And, in so doing, we might find some other routes to numerical growth along the way.Canon Professor Martyn Percy is the Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon
What would you bring along to such conversations – to this or to any “round table conversation”?