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September Messy Church

Posted by Lucy Moore on 21 Sep 2007

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I wasn't expecting to be there, but unfortunately my torn disc in my back means I can't travel, so I wasn't in Bristol as I had planned. This also meant I wasn't responsible for a craft but spent my time 'doing a Jan' and floating round talking to people. And meant I was able to be on the door to welcome people, too, which was nice.

We set up a 'Quiet Corner' for the first time. Here's what it looked like:

  • Beach shelter a last-minute purchase from Mr Cheap (ideal because it makes a space without hiding people away from view)
  • Cushions courtesy of the Marie Curie Shop and Lesley's attic
  • Rug my own
  • Books by Barnabas, mostly, with a few from Church House Publishing thrown in

We did include a Prayer Book for people to write prayers in, but all I found in it afterwards was a wiggly line on the first page. Might have been spiritual expression but not likely, I fear.

Oh dear. Cowplain is a very unspiritual place. Or so it feels.

It feels as if most people are completely satisfied with the material world, possessions are the main aim - the car, the house, the suite - and expectations seem so low.

In the celebration, Paul was talking about the hugeness of the universe (armed with balloon, globe and two sponge balls), but it's hard to imagine any of these people looking up through the orange light pollution and gazing in wonder at the night sky.

He showed a picture and asked what we could tell about the painter from it. The most astute answer was, 'That he's an artist.'

Perhaps it's the legacy of non-church schools in the area: the kids are brought up to tread warily (at best) round faith. I don't know.

Perhaps I'm just out of touch and maybe people are gathering in their hundreds every night somewhere, eager for spiritual enlightenment and they just haven't invited me. (No, this is how paranoia starts. Get a grip.)

Messy Church could so easily turn into a social club, and it's an uphill struggle to say, 'Hey, it's good to worship / wonder / question / feel / reflect! Especially when our Jesus has so much good to offer.'

'If you are thirsty, come to me and drink!' (John 7:37, CEV).
But... what if you're not thirsty? What if your thirst is quenched by all the good things of this world? Widescreen TVs, Internet access, Waitrose Extra-Special Food, BMWs. Where is there space for God then? What's a church trying to do in that scenario?

How do you sell ice to Eskimos? Only by showing them that your water is purer / tastier / more satisfying than the water they're drinking? By consistently being there when the other wells dry up, like at times of bereavement when you come face to face with the big questions?

Perhaps I need to add another question to our questionnaire: something like, 'Which part of Messy Church helps you feel closest to God?'