Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Celebration of the body and of bread in song, dance and word

I rarely attend worship that so lifts the spirit that I don't notice time passing - one of the problems of being a liturgist is that you can get hyper critical and miss that main point of the liturgy is not that it be perfect but that it allow for earth to be open to heaven and be touched by the things of heaven.

On Trinity Sunday the ecumenical chapel hosted the biannual confirmation service for the ecumenical community of disabled people and their families. The service was full of joy, of authenticity, of faith and reality. It was great, it was really well planned and it was messy. Two hours passed and we didn't even notice. Five clergy presided, from the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches in Geneva. Certainly one highlight for me was experiencing Laurence Mottier, the female chaplain, standing behind the altar flanked by her male colleagues breaking the bread at the moment of fraction. Because of ecumenical sensitivities every sentence of the eucharist had obviously been very carefully thought through and planned, yet it simply flowed and was extremely natural and wonderful.
Focusing on the gospel of the prodigal son we had brilliant drama, readings in various langauges and one of the best sermons on ecumenism I've heard in a long time. It was of course all in French but I will post to the docs section in coming days. The Protestant pastor and the Roman Catholic priest each took it in turns to play the older or younger son in the parable of the Prodigal son, speaking about their respective churches. It was very thought provoking and inspiring.
Many of the confirmation candidates had communications problems but all clearly said "yes I want to be Jesus' friend". There was an extraordinary moment at the end of the service when those who were celebrating their confirmation danced with the clergy around the altar. Hard even for an old cynic like me not to shed tears.
I'll try to post some photos and further reflections on the service in coming days. It will remain one of the highlights of my year.