Worship Cafe


The church is in total darkness apart from one side chapel, which is softly lit. Ambient music plays quietly in the background. One by one people arrive, they range in ages and backgrounds, teenagers, twenty something's, middle aged people and older. As they enter they pause a moment by a bowl of water. Each washes their hands. There is a table in chapel with a range of sweets, drinks and snacks, people serve one another and themselves and relax.

After a while Peter welcomes everyone to the gathering, he is the guide for the evening, although many people have contributed to its preparation. He introduces the first part of the gathering; there are a number of worship items to explore. People make their way to the various tables and chairs in the chapel.

Jennifer is in her middle forties; she sits at a table on which is placed 9 glass cubes and a candle. A small sheet says:

these cubes look like ice, but are glass
build them, carefully, so that the tealight shines through them
what does this say to you
how are we like the cubes
how are we like the light

She sits quietly and builds the cubes into a pyramid over the candle. One of the cubes has been shattered inside but still refracts the light beautifully. She pauses. Her thoughts are between her and God.

Christina is a French exchange student, she enjoys Sunday morning worship but language is always a difficulty. She picks up a small indoor kite attached to a cane and takes it to the chancel of the church, a place normally reserved for ministers and servers. As the music plays she flies the kite gently, worshiping creator free of cultural barriers. Although she is alone she remembers that the group made these kites together a few weeks earlier.

At another table a group of three sit; George, Penny and Peter. They are working together to build a cairn out of smooth polished pebbles; it is quite hard, a gentle touch is required else everybody's work will be undone. Penny finds this especially helpful, in her job she is often required to work alone, the exercise reminds her of how we are never alone, and how a gentle touch is required when building on other peoples contributions.

Geoff and Glen are at another station looking at some icons, instead of viewing the icon as a whole they are viewing it through a diamond cut in a piece of card. They are both keen on discussion, and soon end up having a lively debate about what the image could mean, but that is okay; they both come from a background were such images are frowned upon and the have found a new freedom in their expression.

After a while Peter senses that it is time to move on. He introduces the next part of the gathering, a short liturgy. He explains that it will be by candlelight in the other chapel, and that people are welcome to take anything from the first part of the gathering with them. Christina decides to leave her kite, but Jennifer takes the shattered cube and Penny takes one smooth stone of such irregular shape that it never quite fitted into their cairn. Each participant also takes a candle, a sheet with a short liturgy, and they move in silence to the other chapel where cushions have been set on the floor in a circle.

The liturgy speaks of God as a creative community. At the point where there might be a bible reading a faith story is read. Today it is extracts from the life of St. Francis. Those happy to, read out loud from the book. In response to the reading a glass Jar is set in the middle of the circle full of pieces of paper. Peter explains these are called cookies; they are snippets of information from the narrative that they have just read and heard. Each person takes a cookie and meditates on it. There are creative materials on hand, and those who feel confident fashion a response.

Christina draws images from her part of the story, Peter writes a prayer, and others respond how they wish. These responses are placed back in the jar, and Peter now invites everyone to take one of these new cookies and respond to it in turn. Geoff and Glen find this way of sharing ideas without confrontation or discussion challenging and refreshing. George is more nervous as he doesn't see himself as very creative and worries that his cookie is wrong, but he sees a look on Penny's face when she picks his cookie, which encourages him. He asks her if it is "okay", she responds that it was just what she needed.

When the time is right the cookies are put back in jar. They will be kept for future gatherings for people to look at. Peter then invites everyone to link arms and say a Celtic prayer, a Caim. The group does so, and then the gathering is finished. They pick up their things and walk back to the other chapel. Before they go Peter points out that there is a range of sweets left, and suggests that people take them and give them to their friends and families.

After everyone has tidied up the younger members go home to bed, it is getting quite late. Jennifer asks if she can take the shattered cube away with her. Some of the participants go onto the local pub, where the regulars are surprised to be given a range of sweets.