The reflections of a rural archdeacon on life and issues in the Yorkshire Dales. Supporting over 180 churches in an area that covers Teesdale, Swaledale, Wensleydale, Nidderdale, Harrogate and Wetherby, a Church of England archdeacon shares some of the questions and challenges that everyday ministry throws up.
I've just spent a snowy day preparing a course on worship for York St John University and marvelling, yet again, over what it is that makes worship live (or conversely appear static, incomprehensible ritual.) For 12 evenings from Easter to July, in Ripon, we shall be examining the deep roots of Christian worship. What transformed it from a group of people basically following Jewish worship practices and recalling Jesus in a simple meal, to a year-round, world wide celebration of Christ's birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension? How do Christians understand the freedom, insight and 'fresh take' on tradition that the Holy Spirit brings in diverse cultures? And how do our experiences of worship today emerge from and draw on these traditions while speaking of new experiences of God in the lives of believers? For nearly 20 years, I've taught worship (liturgy) to students in Britain, Sri Lanka and the Czech Republic and to students from across Africa. It is always an adventure in which we discover afresh how God communicates with and renews people whether in a grand cathedral mass or a tiny country church where Prayer Book Mattins has been the bedrock of worship for four centuries, whether in rediscovering the path of the Celtic saints or serving breakfast to people with no home and missing morning prayers to find them dry clothes and a food hamper. Today I have been planning a twelve week module for Readers which will be based at Thorpe Prebend in Ripon, in the spring. If more people are interested, comment here, and we will run a second group for others.