Today (Thursday), certain wings of the church celebrate a festival known as ‘Corpus Christi’. This special day, primarily for those of a catholic sympathy (Corpus Christ means ‘the body of Christ’ in Latin), celebrates a theology called ‘transubstantiation’, the belief that at communion the bread and wine turn into the actual body of Christ during Mass. In some countries not only is the feast celebrated in a mass, but they also parade the streets with the consecrated wafer as a public show that the sacrifice of Christ was for the salvation of the whole world. The practice is less common in the UK than elsewhere, but does still occur with the wafer carried out of the church on a ‘monstrance’ and being protected from the sun by a canopy.
Well, such is a celebration that I will be attending for the 1st time in my life later on down in Cambridge, with the service taking place in one Anglo-Catholic church in the city centre before processing across to another church of a similar theological persuasion for an ending service called Benediction. Now if I’m honest, as I prepare to travel down, I’m not sure what I think of all this (watch this space next week!), but I go hopefully with as open a mind as possible. For my experience as a Christian over the years has taught me that no one denomination or tradition holds a monopoly of the good things of God. Indeed as a minister, I’m keen to utilise aspects of the faith from wherever, if (and only if) they might offer us a way to engage authentically with our God. I’m more concerned with what it might do for us, than where it came from. As such, a lot of the constituent parts of what gives a Brunswick service its identity (for example, testimony in the ‘open mic’, prayer stations, the sharing of ‘life changes’, and prayer for healing, to name just a few), have all come from a diversity of traditions. God speaks and ministers to us in many different ways, and I would never actively seek to restrict his options by slavishly following one single tradition. Our Father has good things for us, His children.
Indeed as we gathered at church last week on Trinity Sunday, John, our preacher, helped us reflect on the nature of God expressed as the persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Again we are provided with different ways to access, appreciate and understand God, and again I can testify that at different stages of my Christian walk, I have been particularly drawn to specific persons at particular times. Perhaps as a demonstration of our openness, we might try changing how we usually address God in prayer, and try out a different person.
Of course it was in the name of the trinitarian God, that Jesus instructed his followers to go out, preach and baptise, and this coming Sunday we look forward to such a baptism in the morning service - do come and play a part if you can. And in the meantime, can I offer one final suggestion for us to be open, possibly take us outside our comfort zone, and be involved in the Greater Manchester Great Get Together, which takes place at the Cathedral gardens this Friday evening. Organised originally to remember the late MP Jo Cox and her commitment to bringing communities together, recent events on our doorstep have made this cause all the more important and pertinent. More info and tickets here.
So wherever our God leads us in the coming days, may we be open to Him, and the good things He has for us.