I finished last week with a question that remained unanswered – ‘Can we agree to disagree?’ I’d asked this of myself because I was about to go off on the Shared Conversations for the Diocese of Southwark. These facilitated conversations were a follow-up to the regional ones that I’d participated in last year. The reason I didn’t go straight to the computer keyboard as soon as we had finished to blog a report was mainly out of respect for the process and especially those who had participated in them. We’d all committed ourselves to the ‘St Michael’s Protocol’, and that commitment remains beyond the period of the conversations. But even more importantly, perhaps, I thought the three days we had together were hugely significant and I want to say nothing that would detract from that. So, I just want to limit myself to saying two things.
The first is a huge thank you to those who facilitated the conversations and those who took part. I came away feeling totally exhausted – I don’t know about others and I think that was as a result of the quality and honesty of the engagement.
Secondly, at the very end I felt that maybe, perhaps, we just might, by God’s grace and in God’s time, be able to agree to disagree. That may sound the most provisional thing that you have ever heard, but I think I saw a glimmer, a chink of light and that light gave me, and I believe others, real hope. I would go no further than that.
I’ve been thinking about what Jesus said
‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’ (Matthew 18.20)
Jesus was with us in those conversations – we were blessed; the experience for me was as powerful at that.
Of course, as with on many occasions, though a great deal of what happened happened in the sessions a lot happened around the meal times and as people relaxed with a drink in the evening. I was reminded of that on my return to the Cathedral when we hosted a great event on behalf of Christian Aid.
Christian Aid Week will of course be happening from 15-21 May and so preparations for that week are well underway. The event we hosted was called the ‘Christian Aid Bloggers’ Breakfast’. I arrived in our library to find a long table around which were loads of people enjoying breakfast. The place was decked out with Christian Aid bunting and there was a great atmosphere. Those there all looked after significant Christian blogs – young adults – I was by far the oldest in the room – all keen to hear about one of the initiatives for this year which is called ‘The Big Brekkie’.
The idea is simple, invite people for breakfast and tell them what Christian Aid does. It’s a great idea and one that we will be following up in Southwark. I can imagine a lot of people I could invite for breakfast during that week. But one thing has really stuck with me during this week when I have been recovering from the conversations.
One of the presenters said that we all know that Jesus enjoying having a meal and having a drink. It was so much a feature of his life that his opponents criticised him for it. He did enjoy sharing the food, we were reminded – but there was no meal he had where something amazing didn’t happen. That simple reflection was such a gift for me and I began thinking through all the accounts of meals and parties that we’re given in the gospels and it’s true.
Eating with Jesus was always an amazing occasion because you went somewhere with him you didn’t expect to go. Sharing the meal was a miraculous experience. So, said the presenter, we can expect great things to happen through these breakfasts.
One short Grace that’s often said before meals is this
Come, Lord Jesus, be our Guest
and let Thy gifts to us be blest. Amen.
The guest at the meal will bring transformation. I saw it in our conversations, it happened wherever Jesus went, it can happen in these breakfasts, it can happen in the next meal we share. The truth is, every meal is a ‘Eucharistic experience’ and we should expect it to be so.
sit with us,
share with us,