Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

November 2019: Coming home - service of recommitment at St Mary's

Grace Coming home flyer

After six months away from St. Mary's, we returned home on our 26th birthday, for a service of recommitment and rediscovery.

The physical version of the Grace xxv zine was also available at the service - it was published in late April and we hadn't been in the church since! It was a little bit improved from the previous pdf download.


revisiting the ethos:

Almost 15 years ago in Grace we started a process of exploring who we were, what we had achieved and where we were going. We summed up several weeks of reflection, thought and prayer into three words. We described the three words as our ethos:

  • Create

  • Participate
  • Engage

At that time as we learned more about Jesus and our community, we found that there were new possibilities and directions.  At that point we were challenged to take a new approach to think about how we acted as a community. But as we explored that new approach, it had the challenge of the word "truth" written all over it.

At the time the word "truth" is hard to take.  The truth might be uncomfortable. We were being challenged to make a choice; at the time we described this a choice between a number of doors. The familiar one and one that which we might only be vaguely be aware off. The truth meant being open to changes we hadn’t anticipated, that would shake us out of complacency and the existing assumptions as to how a community worked. The consequence was that we added a fourth word to our ethos:

  • Risk

Grace is now in our 26th year, having celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a party. This brought back many people who have been with us on the journey. We believe that as we started that journey, we took the second door that was dimly lit, smaller and harder to find than the familiar big door of comfort and self-satisfaction.

As we took that door we found that the word "truth" was suddenly a lot more attractive.  We found that the decision to reach for the other door has somehow gave us a sense of being "bigger", because on the other side of that small, dimly lit door we found a wide-open space.  And that wide-open space is freedom ... it is the Realm of God.

But now that we're learning to continue our search in the way of the “small door” we are seeing not just the costs but the benefits and opportunities of that freedom that come from putting our ethos centrally into the life of Grace.

I could describe many ways and events that I believe that this has changed my understanding and engagement in this community. How we have reached out and engaged with the community, that we have brought people into this church building and into our community. How we have built links with other churches and groups that have challenged our practice of faith and workshop. We have evolved as a community, one of our greatest strengths is that as people join the community that we grow with each other’s strengths and that can send us in new directions.

This past year has challenged us in terms of our identity as a nation, in our understanding of secular “truth”. So as we look forward, it may seem that the existing map in our hand now longer describes the world that we see. We should not be afraid that the “small door” might seem even harder to find. We have found those wide-open spaces and the freedom that they have bought, we should therefore believe that we can continue to discover them.

As a community we return to this church building after a period of 6 months away, to reconnect with the wider community that is St Mary’s, we therefore invite you to explore this space today as an example of how to step out on the next years of our journey.

Let us use this evening as a way of re-committing ourselves to our ethos at this, late ‘start of year’ service. There are a series of responses on the screen:

We will not allow our gifts and talents to be hidden
We will enter the kingdom through the door marked "Create".

We will encourage all to contribute. Our ideas are a gift offered to God.

We will enter the kingdom through the door marked "Participate".

We will be hospitable and supportive to one another, to visitors and to the wider church. We will engage with everyday life and connect with culture:

We will enter the kingdom through the door marked "Engage".

We will not be afraid to fail but will push at our boundaries and try new things:

We will enter the kingdom through the door marked "Risk".

We will go through these doors in the power of the Spirit, knowing that Jesus has gone through them all first.

And now for the shameless plug for the hard copy of the Zine that Steve has produced for the 25th Anniversary... For those who have recently joined us this provides one account of the journey of this community. Copies will be available in the café at the end of the service.

Text based on the liturgy for the service from September 2006.

being attentive - noticing the everyday

eating one raisin

noticing the space around us

everyone take a candle and a bible to a place in the church
then turn lights out/down low

lectio divina

isaiah 65

If we could all
just stop throwing stones,
and stoop, knees bent
and write in the dust,

we'd see that the dust
was once stone -
grand, and hard, and proud, and tough -
now ground and dissolved
in grace and tears.

So... how much better
to be a grain of dirt
on that kind prophet’s hands
than a stone
in the cold, accusing Temple
of the pure.

end prayer

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