Yesterday we were at St PJs, the local URC church where we worship on a monthly basis. They know - and tolerate us - very well. We were following the lectionary readings which didn't exactly inspire. The theme of sheep/ shepherds seems to come around at least twice a year and there isn't much more we can say on the subject. However, comparing and contrasting the Acts 2 reading about the disciples selling their possessions and sharing according to their needs with the problematic parable of Jesus as the gatekeeper to the sheepfold led us to some musings about the nature of community.
We discussed different types of community - groups (loose unaffiliated groupings); associations (groups which come together around a single interest) and clubs (formal, regulated associations with rules about who is in and who is out). We then contrasted this with the community of the church - and reflected on what makes the church different.
We invited the congregation to put their hands up if...
they were not vegetarian
they were over 60
they didn't watch the FA cup final
and so on.
We passed a ball of wool around the church, linking all those who agreed that they were part of a particular relationship. This, significantly, included both Clare and myself - and Colin, the pianist.
We then reflected on what makes for broken relationships and for our prayers of intercession symbolically cut some of the strands of wool. Then, despite Colin being tied up, we asked him to play the normally unsingable "Bind Us Together" as we prayed for the Holy Spirit to re-tie the cords which could not be broken.
There were tears of laughter - and, I suspect not a few sentimental tears too. And, I fear, there may have been a few tears at the quality - or lack thereof - of our singing!
If only I'd remembered the camera.
Here's Clare's opening prayer: