Showing posts with label new. Show all posts
Showing posts with label new. Show all posts

17 March 2012

New and old in church life

< Oneness and reconciliation | Index | No later items >

We can clearly see old and new in church structure and life. We take a look at how the two relate and how they can benefit one another. Coventry Cathedral illustrates the topic beautifully for us.

The intricacies of the oldIn this fifth part of the series we examine the old and the new in church life. By 'old' I mean traditional forms of church while 'new' implies relational and organic church. I'll explain what I mean by these terms in the next few paragraphs.

Old forms of church - During the last 2000 years church became formalised and adopted many different traditions. People came to think of church as a religious building with the customs and rituals attached to it. It was a place you could go to.

Churches also became organisations - Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist and so on. What was intended to be simple has become complex. What was supposed to be one has become many.

New forms of church - When church began in the first century it was very informal. People met in homes and shared their lives together (relational). At first there were no special buildings, nothing was formalised, there were few traditions and no denominations. The 'new' forms of church are a return to this early simplicity. The emphasis is on church as a living organism (organic) rather than an organisation.

Old and new together - These two forms of church life cannot easily be separated in practice. Traditional buildings and formats often include or give rise to newer practices that may be simple in nature. An example of this would be the Alpha movement with its origins in the Anglican tradition. On the other hand even the simplest organic forms of church have some structure, traditions, ritual elements, and some degree of human leadership.

The simplicity of the newThere is a continuum; there is one church but it is expressed in many forms. The newer forms tend to be simpler and are often modelled on church as it was at the beginning based on information in the New Testament.

Dividing new from old is an artificial device that allows us to compare and contrast the two. It's important that we understand this. There is only one body, though it expresses itself in a variety of ways throughout time and space. For example the church in Iran and the church in Britain are very different in their expression. Yet they share one revelation and one truth, one Jesus, one King, one principle. They are parts of the same house.

Coventry Cathedral - The old cathedral is ornate, even in its broken state it retains much ornamental stonework. There are hints from the remaining stained glass of painstaking work by mediaeval craftsmen. The new cathedral is much simpler - deceptively so. Its beauty and power come, not from detailed work by many craftsmen but from the outstanding design of a single architect.

Certainly there is  work of great detail - the huge tapestry and the large feature of stained glass spring to mind. But these are part of the architect's plan.

This spoke to me about church life in its old and new forms. The beauty of the old is in the detail of much human effort, hierarchical authority, rules, customs and ancient traditions. The beauty of the new is in the simple, effective design of the Architect. What stands out is the overall plan, not the human detail. In church life we need to see less human effort, authority and tradition and more of the simple design of the Architect - Jesus - the One who said 'I am the Way, the Truth and the Life'. Our church life must be centred on him and him alone. He said, 'I will build my church'.

Old and new are connected - At Coventry old and new stand side by side, connected by a canopy. The old is hollow and empty, a beautiful shell. The new is complete and full of life and light.

This again spoke to me most powerfully. Although we should live in the new, not in the old, we should never reject or forget the old. Like the canopy in Coventry, the connection between old and new is intentional. The canopy was designed to link the two.

In the same way our Architect covers us in the shelter of his wings, he intentionally touches his people in both places. Where church is concerned there is always some life and newness in the old, but there is always a little death and oldness in the new. Why? Because there is always something of him in the old and there is always something of us in the new.

He is Life and Light and Newness and Fruit and running Water. We are death and darkness and oldness and lack of fruit and dryness. But the joy we have is that he is in us and we are in him so although everything he does is perfect and everything we do is imperfect, yet there is something of the perfect in all.

Each of us should pursue the new life all the time, all our days. But we should also cherish the old for he is present in that too. And if we want to see him smile and laugh we truly need to keep the two connected for then we are doing his will.

The architect for the new cathedral once said, 'The new should grow out of the old.' He was speaking of the flow of the design, but his words were prophetic and remain true. Jesus said, 'Look - I'm making everything new!' (Revelation 21:5)

Old and new co-operating - One of the most wonderful things happening in the church today is the growing evidence of co-operation between large, established churches and small, organic groups. There is a synergy developing. See this post from Felicity Dale, for example.

Let me tell you a story. When I visited the 2009 House2House Conference in Dallas I was told that the sound and video engineer was unable to attend because his wife had been taken to hospital. Their baby was arriving unexpectedly early and he needed to be there. Whatever were the conference organisers to do?

A nearby megachurch heard about the problem and sent their sound and vision team with all the necessary equipment. They were able to do the work and even produce the set of DVDs of the sessions. And they didn't even ask for payment. The new with an admixture of the old was helped by the old with an admixture of the new. It simply doesn't get better than that! This is 'love one another' in action.

So whichever part of the church you think you inhabit, make the effort to get alongside every other part to bless and encourage. Christ will smile upon you. He came to bless us, and he loves to see us bless one another.

So what are you waiting for?

Further reading - The Rabbit and the Elephant

< Oneness and reconciliation | Index | No later items >

UK Fellowship Friday Blog Hop - This blog hop is for Christians who live in the UK to link to a post you have recently written that might encourage other Christians. Started by Rhoda, please visit her original article.

21 December 2011

Hearing from the Spirit in Coventry

< Coventry Cathedral | Index | The centrality of Christ >

Sometimes the Holy Spirit pours his truth into our lives like a flowing stream. That's exactly what happened to me recently as I visited Coventry. I went because he told me to go and said that he would speak to me there. But he did even more than he promised. Isn't that just typical of his grace?

The remains of the old visible through the newAs I was preparing to visit Coventry, the Holy Spirit began surprising me with thoughts and I started to write them down. There was more revelation as I visited the old and new cathedrals; much that I saw prompted further thoughts. And finally, after I arrived home there was a third flow of spiritual truth.

The major themes I have identified are...

  • The centrality of Christ, his majesty and glory.
  • Oneness with Jesus and in church life, reconciliation.
  • New and old in terms of church. They are connected. We need to remember the old but live in the new.
  • The old was brought down by intense fire.
  • The new is a different kind of structure.
  • Jesus expresses himself through the new.
  • The new touches the world and should transform it.

What follows is taken from the notes I made on the day. The notes themselves are in italics, the rest is comment added later. I have not expanded all of the notes, there is simply too much for one article. I may revisit these notes, perhaps under the seven headings listed above.

Before the journey to Coventry

The contribution you can make to one church is to encourage people in having good, welcoming attitudes to all believers.

The idea that there is only one church has been much on my mind, and it was immensely helpful to have this guidance. It's not for me to demand or build unity. Instead, I must encourage everyone to accept others with different understandings and vision. Oneness is not about everyone being the same, it's about hearts of love touching through the differences.

Remind them that we're all brothers and sisters.

The 'wheel' emblemEven the emblem I gave you speaks of unity. There's a centre where all the spokes meet, and the periphery is held in place by every spoke. I AM the centre. My people are the spokes, each of them in contact with me. The periphery is out there in the world, far from me, their only connection to the centre is through you. Pray that they, too, will become spokes.

Read more about the 'wheel' emblem and its origin. There's a call to prayer here too; that's something I must not ignore or forget.  Father, remind me - often.

My expectation had been clear. The Lord would speak to me when I reached Coventry, but at this point I was still at home and he was already pouring out so much. I was astonished!

In the old cathedral

The old still remains, but it's empty.

The pillars have all gone.

There is no roof, no protection.

The windows are empty.

This is a place of memories, but few people are here to remember. Most of them are here to look.

The architect says that the new should grow out of the old.

In the new cathedral

A canopy connects the old and the new.

The new west front reflects the old cathedral in its expanse of glass.

The old is clearly visible throughout the new, it is not forgettable and not forgotten.

The view is very different depending whether you are looking towards me or away from me.

I am far more weighty than you might think.

The cathedral has an enormous tapestry portraying Christ, it is so large that it weighs more than a tonne. It's hard to imagine a tapestry being so heavy, and it is even harder to imagine the full majesty and glory of Christ himself. I think he wants me to focus both on his nature and on my inability to comprehend his nature.

This building speaks of life, a progression from the cradle. It's all about reconciliation and has contributions from people of all faiths.

This is an echo of what he showed me before I left home. Reconciliation is a prerequisite for unity. Jesus is our reconciliation, not only with the Father but also with one another. Oneness with the Most High and oneness with one another both depend on the reconciliation that only Jesus can bring. We cannot do without Christ, yet we need nothing more.

Back at home

The old building was brought down by the intense heat of the fire. It cracked and flaked stone, melted lead and glass, and consumed timber.

Fragments of the old stained glass remain.

The old and familiar, the very things we lean upon and think we need, these are all burned up by the intense fire of the Spirit. The old must make way for the new. Yet the old is still more than just a memory. Parts of it remain lest we forget.

Everywhere in the new are expressions of his love, glory, grace, peace, presence, and oneness.

There's a strong theme of reconciliation throughout both old and new.

Old and new are intimately connected.

These seem to be important ideas and should not be forgotten.

The old was brought down by an act of war, but the war was external - it was not a war between old and new.

The inner roof is not attached to the walls.

The technologies of old and new are quite different.

The builders of the old would have found the new literally incredible.

They would have been astonished and unable to comprehend how it could have been achieved.

There's an emphasis in some of the memorials on working selflessly together for a greater good.

There is a swastika on the bronze effigy. See how visitors have polished the swastika and the nose by touching them. Touch is so important.

Touch is transforming, turning dullness to brilliance. We need to touch Christ, we also need to touch one another.

The old cathedral is part of an old town and an old society, now gone apart from a few buildings. The new cathedral is part of a new town and a new city - the university, the shopping centre and so on.

The new fabric is already showing evidence of decay and shabbiness - especially outside.

Although there is a new move of the Spirit coming in church life, the new will go the way of the old unless there is maintenance and repair. It will be needed continuously.

< Coventry Cathedral | Index | The centrality of Christ >

15 November 2011

Coventry Pilgrimage

I've had a couple of letters about a pilgrimage to take place in Coventry next spring. Something about this seems significant, not least the fact that I have no idea why I am being included on the circulation list.

Coventry CathedralThe messages are going out to just a handful of church leaders - though I certainly can't count myself in that category!

And it's addressed to 'all churches in and around Coventry' although I live more than an hour's journey from that city.

But I have been impressed by Coventry Cathedral since my parents took us there as children to watch the progress of the building work. The old Coventry Cathedral, you see, was destroyed by German bombs during a major air raid. The new cathedral was under construction while I was still at school. Wikipedia covers all the basics of the story.

I wonder if there is some kind of revelation here. What was old and traditional was violently destroyed, burned in a fierce fire, so all that remains is ruinous. And after the destruction a new kind of structure has been raised up like a new beginning. The new is totally different in style and construction materials.

I think I need to retrace my childhood steps and revisit Coventry Cathedral and see if the Spirit will speak to me as I do so. (I did go there later, here's a brief report of what I heard.)

Meanwhile, here is the first of the two messages I received. The organisers would like me to pass these details on, so that is what I am doing. The letter contains contact details. You might also like to download the leaflet in PDF form and view the Sherbourne Trust website.




Coventry Pilgrimage


26th March to 1st April 2012


Letter to all churches in and around Coventry


October 2011

Dear Church leader

We are writing to you on behalf of the planning group for a Coventry Pilgrimage to be held in the week beginning March 26th 2012 and culminating in a service in Coventry Cathedral on the evening of Sunday April 1st2012, Palm Sunday. The small planning group is led by the Revd Robin Trew, Rector of Allesley, and includes Christians of different denominations.

The proposal for a pilgrimage has arisen from Robin Trew’s experience of leading several  groups from Coventry churches on the Camino de Santiago, from the recognition of Coventry Cathedral as an international centre of pilgrimage by the worldwide Community of the Cross of Nails, from the experience of a local group associated with the Northumbria Community of prayer walking along the River Sherbourne and parts of the Coventry Way, and from the inspiring story, told in Stephen Verney’s Fire in Coventry, of the Cross of Nails 40-day journey around Coventry and Warwickshire, in which Christians of different denominations participated, before the consecration of Coventry’s new  Cathedral on 25th May 1962.

The proposal for 2012, the Jubilee year of Coventry Cathedral, is to follow the route of the 40-mile way-marked circular footpath, the Coventry Way, by walking from Meriden to Berkswell, Burton Green, Kenilworth, Stoneleigh, Bubbenhall, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Wolston,Brinklow, Ansty, Bedworth and  Fillongley, then to walk down the route of the River Sherbourne via Allesley to the Cathedral. We hope that Christians from many different churches and denominations will join together to walk and pray for our city and the surrounding towns and villages.

A week event will cover the route with walks of 4 ½ to 6 ½ miles on weekday evenings between 5pm and 8pm from Monday 26th March followed by day walks on Saturday and Sunday, with pilgrims returning home each night.  A weekend event for experienced walkers, youth groups etc. will cover the route with long walks from Friday evening to Sunday, pilgrims being accommodated in Kenilworth and Bedworth en route.  A pilgrim service will be held each evening in a church on the route.

Monday               Meriden via Berkswell to Burton Green
Tuesday               Burton Green to Stoneleigh
Wednesday       Stoneleigh via Bubbenhall to Ryton-on-Dunsmore
Thursday             Ryton-on-Dunsmore via Wolston to Brinklow
Friday                   Brinklow to Ansty
Saturday              Ansty via Bedworth to Fillongley
Sunday                 Fillongley via Allesley to the Cathedral
Weekend Event
Friday                   Meriden via Berkswell to Kenilworth
Saturday              Kenilworth via Stoneleigh, Bubbenhall, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Wolston, Brinklow and Ansty to Bedworth
Sunday                 Bedworth via Fillongley and Allesley to the Cathedral


We would like to invite you to support and participate in this pilgrimage by:


·         Advertising it in your church community
·         Considering  registering a group – perhaps a youth group – for the weekend challenge
·         Nominating a “Pilgrimage Link Person” from your church to liaise with the planning group
·         Indicating your interest by joining our mailing list


We will shortly be able to send you a promotional leaflet and to give you a web address where further information and registration forms will be found.


With every blessing,


John and Margaret Lloyd
For the Coventry Pilgrimage 2012 planning group
1 Hill Top,
Coventry
CV1 5AB

Copyright

Creative Commons Licence

© 2002-2014, Chris J Jefferies

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. A link to the relevant article on this site is sufficient attribution. If you print the material please include the URL. Thanks! Click through photos for larger versions. Images from Wikimedia Commons will then display the original copyright information.
Real Time Web Analytics