Messy Cathedral

Published 12th January 2009 by lucy moore

Let me tell you about my Saturday! After a morning spent signing copies of Messy Church 2, The Lord’s Prayer Unplugged and The Gospels Unplugged at the wonderful Unity Bookshop in Petersfield, it was a quick zoom home to pick up a carload of teenagers, craft, food and admin items and career off into Portsmouth City to set up Messy Communion in the Cathedral. The Diocesan Liturgical Group had asked us to organise this as the first of a series of ‘experimental eucharists’, so there has been much negotiation about the actual liturgy with the group and Bishop Kenneth.
Lots of cockle-warming stuff happened. Here are a few highlights for me:

The way that it brought three of the Messy Churches in the diocese together to organise it – we shared the responsibility with Emsworth and Petersfield and got to know each other much better in the process.
The careful encouragement from the Liturgical Group and Bishop to be different but still Anglican.
The generous willingness of our teams to throw themselves into the event, even though it was a freezing cold Saturday.
The 90 people who attended from many different churches across the diocese, including a fair few church leaders.
The age range – from babes in arms to the elderly – round the craft and communion tables; it felt like a large family gathering.
The way that parents and children joined in the activities, and especially the way the prayer craft was welcomed enthusiastically: sometimes prayer is ignored as too much effort, but there were many prayers being stuck together and placed into the large Nativity set.
The sense of all our efforts being brought into the celebration – as we moved up from the font to the communion table, we walked past our Gospel story interpretations on hexagons, then a long grapevine that we had printed and collaged with chalices; then we were round the table covered not with the expensive cathedral altar cloth but with a £4.99 Wilkinson’s sheet decorated with our cardboard people hanging on to a grapevine, on which was the bread we had shaped and baked, on the plates we had decorated, and with the wine in white china mugs that we had coloured in. The minister wasn’t robed up but was wearing a stole that we had embroidered (very beautifully) during the afternoon… all good homegrown stuff.
Someone saying in surprise, ‘But the children were completely engaged all through the communion! They weren’t running round the cathedral!’
A sense of the presence of God dancing through it all from the set-up, through the welcome, the crafts, the celebration, the food served so graciously and cheerfully – the apparent effortlessness of the whole afternoon felt like gliding on the oil of the Spirit, if blessed unction can be compared to engine oil.
The gin and tonic afterwards were pretty good too!

Lots of alleluias.

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