Friday, 25 July 2008

From Schadenfreude to messy ecumenism

Schadenfreude is one of those German words that is almost untranslateable - it means taking pleasure at others misfortunes. We read chapter 4 of the book of Jonah yesterday morning and I realised that Schadenfreude really sums up Jonah's attitude to Nineveh as he sits outside the city hoping for fireworks as God smites the city. Then he rants at God for being too merciful and forgiving. Our prayers were filmed by a Dutch tv crew making a film about the WCC's 60th anniversary - fortunately we were joined by visitors from Berlin just in time to make the side chapel look almost full. It was quite a challenge catering for the needs of the visitors and the tv crew at the same time.
Today, standing in for a colleague who was ill, I gave an ad hoc talk to an ecumenical group of pastors from Detroit. Towards the end of our discussion I asked whether they had heard about messy church and that then got me wondering aloud about what "messy ecumenism" might look like. Just like messy church is a way of offering a less heavily structured but still God centred activity for families, might there be space in the ecumenical movement for something less structured more cafe-culture ecumenism that could bring a new generation in, alongside the more institutional ecumenism? Just musing really.