Thursday, February 21, 2008

mission-shaped questions: sacramental encounter

I'm reading the just-published Mission-shaped Questions from Church House Publishing, edited by Steve Croft. It's a kind of follow-up to the amazingly successful Mission-shaped Church report from 2004, and is a series of essays aimed at addressing some of the theological issues that have come out of fresh expressions of church since that time. There's an inspiring essay by Lindsay Urwin OGS who is Bishop of Horsham, which explores the role of sacramental ministry in fresh expressions. He sees the sacraments as essential. This is where people encounter 'fresh expressions of Christ' himself. He argues that in appropriate circumstances we need to make 'risky exceptions' to some of the usual rules governing sacramental ministry, and tells a moving story about an ordination for a youth congregation called Eden. Our own experience in mayBe backs this up. When we began in 2004 we had the freedom to go where we wanted with our worship, but found very rapidly that we were drawn to allowing the Eucharist to be at the centre. Simple but engaging, close but mystery-filled, we keep re-discovering that in this sharing of bread and wine somehow the risen Jesus is present.

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