After the past few years of the pandemic, we should be practiced at this by now, however, I was reminded last weekend of all the unexpected things that can happen around Messy Church.
I had the joy of attending Southwark Cathedral does Messy Science on 14May, but it was not without behind-the-scenes and on-stage drama. A catalogue of last-minute mishaps plagued the organising team with two members ending up in A&E the day before and on the day, resulting in a last-minute switch around of storyteller. Meanwhile, Southern Rail cancelled vital trains making the journey into the Cathedral hot and bothersome for some. However, I witnessed teamwork at its best, and that was all before we got started!
I’m glad to report that families enjoyed an hour of exploring the seven days of creation through science experiments, constructing an art installation and prayer activities. My personal favourite was the erupting volcano. We were also challenged about how we can care better for God’s amazing world with activities from Christian Aid and Tearfund. However, during our time of celebration, Dr Dave’s ‘elephant’s toothpaste’ experiment refused to fizz, and as we reached the final blessing, a young man leapt to the stage, wrestled the microphone off the bishop to express his anger at the social injustices that affect him – all very unexpected!
It made me ponder that throughout the gospels when Jesus showed up, unexpected things happened: water miraculously turned into wine; a person blind from birth could now see; a vast crowd was fed from five small loaves and two fish. All very unexpected. When Jesus showed up, unexpected things also happened in the spiritual realm – remember the story of Legion and the impure spirits rushing into a herd of pigs? Finally, the ultimate unexpected thing happens – Jesus, who was tortured and died on a cross, appears on the third day, resurrected and very much alive! This is so unexpected that Mary Magdalene and the disciples on the road to Emmaus failed to recognise him at first.
I wonder how many times we fail to notice when Jesus shows up at Messy Church? The presence of Jesus might come in the form of an unexpected act of kindness, a prophetic word from a child, or when someone brings along an extra cake just as an extra family shows up for dinner because they felt prompted to do so. What I’m learning is that when we step out in the name of Jesus, we must expect the unexpected, both in the physical and spiritual realm, and be ready to respond through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The BRF Messy Church team will be hosting the Messy Church Conference this coming weekend – a chance to expect the unexpected!
Aike Kennett-BrownBRF Messy Church ministry lead