Friday, 29 May 2015

(Not Quite) 99 Red Balloons

It's amazing to think that 2015 is the sixth year Pentecost has been celebrated at Swanvale Halt following the 'restored' pattern (restored only in the sense that I assembled it from other liturgical material), notwithstanding being missed out in 2012 when we weren't worshipping in the church itself. As usual, almost everyone forgets from year to year what it is we do. This year I hung strings of red balloons between the pillars, necessitating some neat acrobatics with the processional cross on the part of the crucifer. 

We did the 'speaking in tongues' performance of Acts 2 in which a group of people stand up during the reading to read verses 11 to 13 in a variety of languages, all at once. It introduced an element of pleasing chaos and silliness, added to by me sloshing water about from the font and then spattering the congregation with it before being spattered myself by a younger member of the company. Well; the Holy Spirit is not chaotic, but he may appear so to our limited human apprehension. A surprising number of people said how they enjoyed it all.

However in view of our reflections about the mission of the church I did think about how inward-looking it was. Silly though elements of the Pentecost liturgy may be, it focuses on the serious business of reminding the populus dei of their apostolic task as Christ's disciples, to heal, reconcile, serve and preach. This is a good thing, and a needful thing, but it also emphasises the distance between Christians and everyone else. Reminding people of their baptism by means of the asperges, to take only one element, assumes they are baptised, and I know for certain that not every adult present was; it assumes that they are within the system, and committed to it, not trying to work out what it is they might think and believe. It's definitely the discipleship aspect of the Church, rather than the missionary. 

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