Monday, 16 July 2012

Assembly dispatch #1

Well, the major event I was involved with for Assembly is done, and done well. It felt as though we shaped an installation service for the new President Andrew Dutney that was coherent with who he is and will be as our President. Music, beauty, tradition.
Loads of involvement from people of various ages and cultures and parts of the church.
Lots and lots of work from a dedicated team of people, some who have been working on this since the original dreams 18 months ago, some who came in with weeks to go to help realise the dream.
It was exhausting, but so rewarding and a huge honour to have been part of this moment in the life of our church.

I told the story for the service, as well as planning it and playing clarinet in the band.

The story was John 10 - Jesus describing himself as the good shepherd, who lays down his life for the flock, who gathers one flock, who is intimately connected with both God and the people.
For a less narrative, more teaching, text, it can be difficult as a storyteller to convey the narrative. The use of gesture helps - I used my hands in a repeated gesture indicating the abundance & overflowing nature of the life Jesus came to bring. I used a 'snatching' and a 'scattering' gesture for the actions of the wolf. I indicated where the wolf came from, where the hired hand ran to. Simple, strong gestures, that appear to have achieved the aim of bringing the people into the story - not easy necessarily in a room of 2,000.

The response has been positive to the story and the service as a whole, which is such an affirmation that we shaped a service that met the hopes of the people to celebrate this moment in our church.

Today I was on clarinet duty again, and I admit, it was an effort to get out of bed and over to the venue in time! Moving slowly today ... But again, working with some wonderfully creative people, shaping worship that establishes the tone for our gathering, our meeting, as happening within the context of the worshipping life of the people of God.

And I am enjoying one of the best bits of the Assembly - meeting people from all over the country, and the world. I am sitting at a table with David and Maggie from the Church of Scotland, and they have shared reflections on some proposals from the perspective of their experience in Scotland, and we have had conversation about story.

Finally, I am losing my voice, which is better to be happening now than yesterday - very grateful it held out for the story yesterday, but sharing with fellow Assembly members will be hindered if my voice really does go ...

Andrew's words last night and today have been timely reflections on the nature of the Uniting Church, of church in general, as a diverse collection of people in a unique kind of community. One flock, with one shepherd; one body with many members.

I am reminded of a hope I expressed reflecting on our Synod / Presbytery meeting about a culture of communication, which makes living as one community of diverse beings possible.

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