Wednesday, 1 December 2004

More thoughts on tradition

We visited my mother at the weekend. Unfortunately I didn't have all that much time with her, but we did discuss the retreat she'd been on.

My mother changed churches about 18 months ago, moving from a fairly loud mixed culture charismatic church to an evangelical anglican one. The move wasn't because of the style of meetings or anything to do with the actual church itself - only that she couldn't cope with the sheer volume of a Sunday morning meeting. The new church is also quite un-anglican, and more like the previous one in terms of attitude, however being mostly white and with a more formal background it is somewhat quieter. As an anglican church they make only the barest nod to the formal liturgy.

Last week she went away on a retreat to a place called Burrswood which is essentially anglican. She's been there previously and benefitted from their healthcare and advice, however this time she went with a friend (the wife of an anglican priest) and for rest/spiritual refreshment reasons rather than medical restoration. The friend wanted to follow the pattern determined for the retreat, and therefore my mother tagged along for each of the 'services' they held. The first of these was a standard formal service, everything done from the book, a mumbled message etc, however the second was managed by a guest speaker who was inspiring and made the service come alive. The 3rd and 4th meetings were just like the first, with even less life (if that were possible).

Back to the point of the title. My mother has never been one to put down tradition, having grown up in formal meetings. However her conclusion was that liturgy applied like this was more likely to kill spiritual life rather than encourage it. I was more than a little surprised to here this, however her concern was that with a liturgy those leading could simply rely on on the form of words and order of service. Even though they may be good (and some of the words ARE very good indeed) without the Spirit of God being involved in the meeting you might as well not bother.

Exactly what I've been trying to say here.

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