Sharing the same air space, albeit merely appearing in the same city on the same day, as the Archbishop of Canterbury, will probably never happen to me again and I shall bask in reflected glory for quite some time. We had both been invited (the Archbishop and I) to contribute to the Diocese of Exeter’s 1100th birthday celebrations, he (Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury – did I mention it?) to speak in the Cathedral and lead a communion service and I to share some thoughts on Messy Church. I expect he (the Archbishop, in case you’d forgotten) regretted not being able to come to my talk, being busy with his own at the time.
I was deeply flattered that some forty people either preferred to hear about Messy Church or weren’t organised enough to get tickets for the Archbishop in time. We may not have had his archepiscopal presence, but we did have a group of deaf people and two interpreters who womanfully signed their way through my distressingly slangy and informal presentation and interpreted for the questions and comments that the deaf people contributed. They certainly had contributions to make when the question was asked, ‘When have you ever felt welcome or unwelcome?’
We have so much to do as a church to make every single person genuinely welcome, whether deaf, hearing, able, differently able, messy or high-powered… Actually, wouldn’t it be hard to welcome an archbishop to Messy Church?