Saturday, 18 September 2010

Kennings and labyrinths for a retreat of the Council of Anglican Episcopal Churches in Germany

On Thursday evening I caught the night train to Germany to come and spend the weekend with folk from the Council of Anglican Episcopal Churches in Germany.
I was privileged to be able to sit in on their business sessions yesterday - I have to admit that I really must be a bit of a sad case ecumenical bureaucrat to find business meetings interesting. However this was less a business meeting and more a news of the local congregations' life. There were also a couple of opportunites to talk about the WCC's work on environmental issues and the current time for creation, and in terms of ecumenism in Germany through the ACK and involvement in the Ecumenical and Protestant Kirchentag.
However, the real reason I was with this group is that in a moment of weakness (also known as the well-known stranz inability to say no) I agreed to be a retreat leader for three "input" sessions. It's always strange to have a completely free hand with a group and it was wonderful for my brain to try to piece together something that I hoped might be both useful and meaningful for them (and of course for me!).
So, based on the ideas of my friend Janet Lees in Word of Mouth and on the Vision4Life website, I decided to try and do Bible Study without Bibles, and encourage them to allow themselves some time to see how much their story crosses with Jesus' story.
In the first evening session I did a bit of story telling, about myself and where I "come from" to try to empower them to do some deep talking about their own journeys. Then I gave each of them an A4 photocopy of a chartres labyrinth to trace with their fingers or a pen, both inwards and outwards and encouraged them to talk in groups of three and dare to name where they thought they might be going ... and perhaps even acknowledge where they might be coming from.
At the end of that session I distributed some "kennings" that I'd prepared on small pieces of card and we read them aloud around the room as a way of trying to sense where God's story and each of our stories were crossing, how we could pick up the thread.
This morning we began by remembering the labyrinth, thinking about the difference between labyrinths and mazes Then I got everyone to write some kennings - which was fun and the results were brilliant - I'll type them in later.
The main part of that session we then spent in remembering in the large group Christ's passion and betrayal. Our remembering was a powerful time of words and silence, of promptings and saying. It became clear to me just how good a tool Remembered Bible is - we were interpreting and telling at the same time, adding ourselves, our feelings into the story, But today I also felt very much how meditative and emotional remembering the Bible can be.
In the third session we moved to remembering resurrection and the Emmaus story. I had never done this before with a group and as the "remembrance teaser" told them the text we were going to remember together was about bread. so we remembered lots of bread stories before I moved them on to Emmaus. Remembering Emmaus really showed me how much the Bible itself is a remembered story, all about anamnesis. More about the content of our remembering in a later post.
To close I gave the group another labyrinth - this time the Peace Convocation logo - just a black and white version rather than the colourful one pictured here. We prayed and then moved to the chapel for our eucharist where our remembrance became real in the taste of the broken bread.
By the end I felt we had all walked a fair way together, seeing how our paths and God's were crossing and intertwined, how even seemingly dead ends might hold the opportunity for new life and challenge.


janetlees said...

Very interesting Jane. I started the term here with The Supper at Emmaus (or the 'not last supper' as I now call it) - it is an example of remembering the bibleembedded in remembering the bible. What fun. Also had a good timedoing RB over the weekend, this timein Coventry. There will be lots of Kennings in the New Book - hopefully out early 2011.

Jane said...

I can sort of see a book cover with lots of kennings on it - should do some calligraphy