I came across this sign whilst walking near a memorial in a local park…it made me wonder, what is more holy about the ground where we memorialise compared with the ground which we tread each day…? Last summer I went to a conference for people from a more catholic tradition who wanted to craft worship opportunities in a more creative way. Over the days that we were there the worship space had a sandpit in the middle of it. The sand was used in a variety of ways to illustrate or provoke thought. On one occasion we were invited to take a small jar of the sand away with us, as our little bit of ‘holy ground’. The jar lid did not stay firmly in place and in no time I had bits of holy ground everywhere…but that was the joy of it! All ground is holy, or space where God dwells, surely? How often do we notice it though? How often do we act like it is?
“Whoever you are, you are human. Wherever you are, you live in the world, which is just waiting for you to notice the holiness in it.”Barbara Brown Taylor: An Altar in the World
Inspired by the call for church to change, and by Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, An Altar in the World, I have been pondering what an altar in the world might look like. This morning I saw a gorgeous robin stood on our patio table just surveying the space; it felt like beautifully hallowed ground! This morning has been somewhat cooler, but the other day I was sat in the garden praying, and the birdsongs took my attention – it was like they were providing the heavenly worship as I communed with God. It was one of those moments that I would love to put in a bottle and cherish.
This morning as I spoke with a parishioner on the phone, I asked her about how she was. She said that she was lamenting ‘church’ which for her is dedicated time to commune with God and fellow Christians. In the next breath she told me, ‘of course I have an altar at home,’ and went on to describe what that looked like, and how she used it. She was so animated when speaking about the space which for her was ‘holy ground’.
What does your altar look like? Is it a space in your home which you have dedicated to spending time with God, or somewhere you came across completely by accident? How do you use this space?
Last summer I was at a conference where the middle of the chapel had a huge square of sand. The sand was blessed, and we used it in various ways for each time of worship we shared in. At one point we were asked to take a jar of the ‘holy ground’ and spread it around…I found sand all over my suitcase when I got home, but there was something poignant about that holy ground seeping into everyday life. How does holy ground make its way into each part of our lives? How do we make sure all that we do takes place on holy ground?
Whilst it seems a strange request, I wanted to have a visual backdrop which allows for the opportunity to almost freeze the moment…what I got was so much richer.
The realisation that there are as many ways of celebrating the Eucharist as their are priests.
We are all a product of our own experiences of the Eucharist, and those who have shaped us along our journey.
As well as providing an opportunity with God, the Eucharist affords us an encounter with those who have gone before, and have contributed in some small way to who God has formed us to be…
The Eucharist is not only a celebration of the Last Supper, but also a reminder of the diversity of God and God’s people…
Of our togetherness…
And our brokenness.
It is an outpouring of God who ‘Goes-between’ (to coin a phrase of John V Taylor) each of us, to draw us into communion with God and, most beautifully, with one another.
God meets us in the silence, in the breaking of the bread and the pouring of wine. It was a beautiful opportunity to experience this sacred meal through the eyes of another.
#365 As I confronted my desire for solitude and disappointment with the huge numbers of people flocking onto #lindisfarne #holyisland I was reminded of Jesus’ promise to make his disciples #fishersofmen whilst looking out at a small fishing boat. It made me think about marketisation of places of pilgrimage and whether it is a good or bad thing?