01/07/14 From the Minister’s Deck Chair
Fifty of us have just been a way to Lee Abbey for the fifth church weekend. It was the first time at the Abbey and unlike the other four weekends someone else from their community led it instead of me doing the teaching. David Rowe the warden was excellent and spoke on sacred space, public space and having a voice. For me it was a real blessing as it all confirmed so much of my thoughts for the future of this church and where our priorities lie. It comes as the church prepares for a major project called Mission Impossible which will begin at 2.00pm on Tuesday 15th July. All hands on deck for this please.
Lee Abbey is more than just a conference centre it is a Christian Community made up of people from all around the world who come to pray and work and deepen their faith life. The community is mainly formed but not exclusively from people under thirty. In the time there, which seemed to be six months to two years, they adhere to a set of promises and run the house and estate which includes a fine beef herd. All this means that a very new testament communal life is experienced.
I don’t know if any of you have lived in community but it can have its moments as well as its blessings. I was at Cliff College for a year and that could be ‘interesting’ when people forgot the word of God. We had hundreds of rules back in the ancient days when I attended, which didn’t always make people feel grand. They used to sing ‘And if our fellowship below in Jesus be so sweet, what heights of rapture shall we know when round his throne we meet’. It didn’t always feel quite like that and I am sure Lee Abbey has its moments as well. But Cliff was a fairly closed community for most of the time so we didn’t have people diluting the tensions in the same way as the North Devon Community. Cliff was focused on study rather than hospitality though there were such events each year which did welcome people. But both had an ethos of witness, prayers, commitment, outreach, respect, building community, being honest (but kind) and sharing Christ with all.
Now that sounds like any church anywhere or it should. John Chapter 13: 35 should perhaps be placed on all church exits. “By this all men shall know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another “. We have a loving church community here but our visit to Lee Abbey impressed all of us and perhaps even made some hanker for a deeper community spirit in a busy world. Mission Impossible is set to encourage such an outlook, and to use that recently well warn phrase ‘it’s not rocket science’, no, it’s the Gospel of Christ.
Oh and to be clear this church will not self destruct in ten seconds! Have a good summer.