Archive for October, 2007

The Rite Before Christmas

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

I had an idea for an alternative worship midnight mass that I named ‘The Rite Before Christmas’. Obviously it is a joke, but equally obviously it is not. Unfortunately, there are Christians to whom the term ‘rite’ is like a red rag to a bull. If they are not assuming that the term refers to a satanist black mass, then they are railing at Roman Catholics and other liturgical churches for their ’empty rituals’. What they fail to recognise is that they have rituals of their own. Because these rituals are unexamined, they run a very strong risk of being as empty as any others. That is not to say that every traditional rite is authentic though they may be for someone.

small voices update

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

I have had one or two requests for information about small voices, so here is an update.

I’m afraid that small voices as a local entity never really got off the ground. The concept was always that small voices would supply discussion and experimentation to the church in the area, and one local church in particuar. We were working on developing it within a local church at the time, but unfortunately our ethos and that of the church differed so extremely that we were unable to sustain the working relationship.

Since that time we have contemplated running sessions locally. I think that we would be able to manage that, but to be honest it takes a lot of time that I do not have. What I never intend small voices to be, is to be a church in the traditional sense, or even in the Gibbs & Bolger version of emerging church.

The goal was always to fit in with the idea of church as an open market. With the best will in the world, a group or ministry is always going to be owned by its originator. Despite the commitment to participation, small voices was always going to be my baby. And that’s OK, or even necessary in a ministry, but it is not OK in the church as a whole. The church is meant to be an egalitarian commonwealth where people of gifting are free to exercise it, not a divided set of tribed locked into tribal leaders and allowed to exercise gifting only by permission.

As it is, the material developed for small voices has been used by other groups. If you are in one of them, some more feedback would be great. I have obviously discussed the content with friends and used some of the material informally with peole to whom the rules we laid out are simply a way of life. Without a deadline, it has been tough to keep developing material. However, the goal of developing material does help to keep me motivated.

I think that the most developed version of what is emerging in Scotland can be seen most clearly in the network of ministries, businesses and arts projects in Edinburgh that I learned of from wee beautiful pict. Paul Thomson describes this as ‘post-congo’ Christianity, meaning post-congregational. I would tend to concur that the church is freeing herself from congregations, and that this is a good thing.