One of the things that meant that Greenbelt has for the last 25 years been the one Christian mega-gathering that I REALLY wanted to experience ‘one-day’, is the fact that it is a really inclusive event, which seems to have always wanted to engage people in ideas and new, or emerging forms of worship.
So, it seemed right that I started my Greenbelt experience, with something “Blessed” shared by Fr Simon Rundell of St. Thomas the Apostle, Gosport and Robb of ‘Changing Worship’ and ‘Metanoia’ (both of whom are a great follow on Twitter and their blogs!) – a Eucharist that was really designed to “Wake me up inside.”
It did just what it said on the the label!
Without wishing to repeat a blow by blow account of the whole thing, what was it that meant the most to me?
The theme for Greenbelt this year was ‘Dreams of Home’ and two things struck me particularly about the way Fr Simon had designed the liturgy and visuals to fit this theme:
- The use of different rooms of the home as elements of the Eucharistic celebration enabled us to really engage with the movement that lies with in this most poignant of sacraments. For the ‘Penitential Rite’ (Confession and Absolution) we were in the Bathroom, including the bubbles of God’s forgiveness that were able to fill the space of a Big Top.
- The use of images from glamorous, expensive home magazines contrasted nicely with the state of the world today, where so many are homeless, either through poverty, war/insurrection, or a society that simply wont understand.
The other piece of liturgy that I found particularly moving, and made me feel more than a little bit uncomfortable, was the Lord’s Prayer – first prayed together and then followed up with a series of “Don’t say… if you…’s”. The pace was also just right – it stopped you getting comfortable. It reminded my that I can not pray, without understanding the consequences of those prayers!
There was also something really, really special about sharing The Peace with complete strangers – I had truly come home to Greenbelt, in God’s presence.
Later on Friday evening, I experienced true Greenbelt serendipity. There I was, up in the Grandstand, having checked out The Tank (so I knew what to do when the phone needed charging) and wondering as the rain came down what on earth to do before I trekked back to my tent.
There was something called ‘Homebound – Molten Choral Medititation” in a venue called Hebron. I hesitated, totally ignorant of what it might involve (I’d not yet had time to read the Greenbelt Guide). Then the rain came down harder, and I heard some rather wonderfully harmonious choral singing, so I took the plunge. One of the best spur of the moment decisions I made in the time I spent at Greenbelt.
Accord, a group of 6 singers who I can’t find anywhere on the internet except at Greenbelt, created a beautiful blend of a capella choral music that drew recognisably from contemporary worship songs, traditional choral music (a lovely kyrie) and then completed the worship with something that I can only describe as choral beat-box! (If anyone can point me in the right web-direction of this group I’d be delighted.)
Molten Meditation who led the meditation in a full venue, asked us to consider the three steps (which we turned into 3 simple actions, and repeated twice during the ‘service’) we expected to make during our journey ‘home’ during Greenbelt. Their use of pace, and action, and what I’ve learnt is called ‘ambient’ music was excellent. It held our attention brilliantly in short bursts, including using some Charles Spurgeon quotes. I was so engaged that I remained so in the spaces filled by Accord’s music.
But what caught my attention, imagination and made me sit up and think the most was a story. They called it “There is such a thing as forgiveness”. Presented as what I hope might be termed a video/audio montage, I am really, really grateful that they released it on their YouTube site (click the link above) It used part of this (I think) Radio 4 interview recorded in March 2010, to explain how one man was asked to pray for another, and for the forgiveness that is being found through those prayers, not just for those two men but for a whole community. I have never, ever been so startled to see the face of Ian Paisley.
So, you see, despite the problems I encountered in myself and with camping, Greenbelt was definitely not a wasted experience! Just from that first evenings worship, I have been given much to think about, and many ideas to try in my own worship contexts in future.