Sat 20 Aug 2016
Slow church. At breakfast this morning here at this old house, we were talking about spiritual formation through literature and the stages of creativity: formation, passion, expression. As part of that discussion, one person talked about “slow church.” Like the slow food movement that seeks to return us to the enjoyment of real food locally shared mindfully, so the idea of slow church is less hoopla and numbers driven and more communal “breathing together.”
This past week, I read somewhere (Facebook?) that in England, there is a rise in attendance at traditional choral evensong services. Christian or not, people are hungering for silence in a beautiful space, surrounded by good music sung by a trained choir and the ancient words of the Christian Vesper service. A capella singing. A slower pace. Not seeker sensitive but, like the slow food movement, presenting the Scriptures in spoken and sung word, letting people get what they get and leaving the rest to mystery.
“Evensong … is a very tiny fragment of something else: it is a fragment of the worship which is offered to God by Christian people every hour in every part of the world. When you come to Evensong here it is as if you were dropping in on a conversation already in progress — a conversation between God and people which began long before you were born and will go on long after you are dead.” http://stpaulsivy.org/wp-content/uploads/spi-choral-evensong-A-booklet.pdf
That is so antithetical to the mega-church movement, to the contemporary Christian praise band, to so many of the church leadership conferences on “growing your church.” It is simply putting the Gospel out there in a beautiful but more subdued way. Despite the lack of glitz and glam, people’s dry souls are watered.
A vision of church was then shared as part of the morning’s discussion: the Church is like an oasis in the desert. You can build a 5-star hotel at the oasis, you can have a taco stand, the palm trees are nice but not necessary. The only thing that makes the oasis thrive is the life-giving water it offers. Period. Without that water, no oasis.
May you find a cup this week to quench your soul’s thirst and may you find a place that allows you to drink from that cup slowly and deeply.