I had a beautiful experience today, splashing about in the mirror pool with my kids and with friends down at city park. It is Maundy Thursday, and the time for traditional services of foot washing, commemorating the scene of the last supper from John's Gospel.
The mirror pool gave an excellent opportunity to do the foot washing in a public place, and to share with the community what happens in worship - singing, fun, prayer, service and sharing food (and sometimes a person in a funny costume!) For me, this is mission - making the life of the church visible and comprehensible.
Most of what we do is hidden from view, with in the walls of the Church building, and if people do wander in, much of what is done during our services is pretty incomprehensible.
I don't think we should be so embarrassed about public expressions of our faith. Nobody is going to mind if we get out there on the great days of our Christian heritage. Even atheists can appreciate the importance culturally of religion. If those of us from more liberal and progressive strands of Christianity stay with in the confounds of our buildings, we leave the public domain to the ranters and shouters - those who taint our faith with aggression to 'outsiders', damning others to hellfire and damnation. We cannot leave the public realm to such as these.
I was with a lovely man today from an organisation that is reviving 'Speakers Corners' around the UK. Bradford is one of many cities that will be setting up committees to identify where such a space might be (the historic ones of our city have disappeared)
It is vitally important that politics and faith can be done in a public space - not hidden away where they end up in the hands of the 'party leaders' and the 'church elders'. We like to have control, and when things are out in the open, we lose control, you never know quite what will happen. This is when change can actually occur. And change is what we need.
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