Dog had a short walk, very early, and then I set off to Saint Nicholas' for the 9.30 am Holy Communion. The last in the building until September. The Wednesday and early Sunday Eucharists will be in the Rector's Office - it now has one of the pews that we've removed from the north aisle.
The theme for today was pilgrimage so a bowl of shells was available for everyone to have a little reminder of the journey that we're on - a personal journey - but also travelling together. There was even reference to Chaucer's pilgrims and the story telling that helped them on their pilgrimage. As we looked quickly over both Testaments and church history it is remarkable just how much "journey" is part of the narrative. We stand, or walk, in good company!
Introducing the morning service I spoke of the continuity of our worship from one "room" in our property to another and I felt it important that physically we made the link by moving together to the new place. Two weeks ago the sermon had been on biblical metaphors for the church: the family of God, the body, a temple, bride... We'd noted how much emphasis there is on being church "together". We need each other. We travel as the people of God.
When we arrived in the hall the seating plan was an attempt to reinforce our unity as the body of Christ in this place. Like a family we sat around a table and were able to see one another. When it comes to Parish Holy Communion in a couple of weeks we'll gather in the space around this same table to receive the bread and wine.
I know that it will take a while for people to feel comfortable with the different way of doing things - but as we work through the pain together and begin to understand what is happening when we meet to worship then we'll grow closer in fellowship and in enjoying being in the Lord's presence together.
For most people the experience of today was good - even the companionship on the journey across the Lisburn Road was part of the worship not a distraction from it. There were balloons and fun, there were people helping people, there was a sense of doing something together. In the weeks to come with the Pentecost Praise service (United Churches Picnic and Barbecue) and then the now annual end of Sunday Space year Parish Picnic with Bouncy Castle... hopefully we'll continue to grow together and enjoy being the family of God in this place. And as others see how we love one another they too will be drawn into our fellowship and find a home, a refuge and a place where they too can exercise the gifts that God has given them.