On my wall here at work there is a post card of a far off looking determined woman that reads "With a cup of tea in your hand anything is possible" a simple statement which as I write this takes on new meaning.
A lot has happened lately which is inevitable when you don't post regularly. Life has been as always full on. Everywhere there is change for me at the moment from Church to work to family to friends. There seems little place for stillness in all this movement.
The move to my new Church has been interesting the liturgy is similar but it is the small changes that make the difference. For example the different tunes to sung responses can throw me for a moment in the liturgy.
The part where I am the biggest woos is at the cup of tea afterward. I am reminded of a talk earlier in my training on how space works to build community. It is a little harder here with round tables where people sit in their groups rather than stand where you have to bump into others. Yet that too is a very much dependent on the age and mobility of the community I suspect.
I have discovered however the ultimate community building accessory for any new church going gurl that being the husband.
On Sunday Shawn joined me for Pentecost and it was interesting seeing the difference it made being a couple in people coming up to talk afterwards I am not sure how my staunch southern American shaved headed husband would cope with being described as a gurls accessory but it is all in a good cause. Anyway they are a nice group of people and I am reminded that it takes time to find your feet in a community. It will be in the small group situations where relationships really begin I think.
Such thoughts inevitably run beyond where I am to how as a church do we make visitors welcome?
How do we open ourselves up to those new to the church?
How do we provide the space and encouragement that may lead to a return visit?
Do we do the brief obligatory hi, have you come here before? Do you live in the area? conversation and then feel that our duty is done?
And perhaps most importantly how do we recognise when we have become inwardly facing? When we are focused more on those comfortable relationships we have with each other, rather than those out on the edge with new comers. I know myself at times I have been all the things I have warned against, most of the time for no other reason than I forgot to notice or was enjoying those around me. I hope that I remember these weeks on the edge, the moments of warmth when I am met by parishioners. And when I find my feet that I am reminded of the importance of the milling places where those most comfortable on the edge meet.
Remeber with a cup of tea in your hands all things are possible...