Having run 'God on Mondays' successfully for the past eighteen months in partnership with a clerical colleague, I honestly wondered how I might continue to sustain something worth attending, now that I am working on my own. When we started, Jenny organised others from St James' to provide refreshments. This looked as if it might stop when we moved pastoral operations into the school, but it didn't. Julie, one of the school mums, a regular participant since the beginning, baptized at the 'God on Mondays' service this time last year, offered to help organise refreshments, and has ended up taking charge of it. She enjoys doing it and that just gives me so much pleasure.
But, how to continue without the worship becoming literally a one man band? For me one of the best things about 'God on Mondays' was working with a female colleague. The complementary partnership of a man and a woman offering worship and teaching is just a great way of breaking the institutionalised mould of expectations - and it goes down well with people.
I put my problem to the teaching staff by posing the question of sustainability. If far too much depended on me, then it might fail if I got sick. Could anybody help? The answer wasn't long in coming. Kelly, one of the class teachers, responsible for Computers in the school curriculum, and thus someone I'd already got to know as Governor interested in these matters, offered her help. She's an evangelical Christian, actively involved in her own church community, and therefore not a newcomer to leading worship.
After an initial conversation and a planning session for the term, we re-started 'God on Mondays' this afternoon, with Kelly leading worship and me telling the story of the Road to Emmaus, and playing the guitar, as usual. It all went very well, and quite surprisingly to me, Kelly admitted her nervousness afterwards, despite her being a confident class teacher, at home with the kids. Well, I guess that was quite a new role for her. Such courage to be prepared to have a go at it.
It was a most encouraging new beginning, and not only for this reason.
Among those attending 'God on Mondays' today was the familiar face of a woman I had seen before, and mentioned in a previous posting, standing beneath the underpass by City Hall, quietly simply proclaiming the essential Gospel message to passers by. In recent weeks, she's also come into St John's to pray, after her sessions in the subway. Last Monday she was in school, collecting a grandchild. This week she and the grandchild joined us for 'God on Mondays' It was delightful, seeing her piece together the fact that I was the guy riding through the underpass on the bike who smiled at her; the same who was there in St John's dressed up and going through these rituals that 'Church' people do; The same man behind a guitar in the school with the kids. Small world.
Across all the different 'cultural' paths we devise for ourselves, meetings happen between people who treasure the same essential things in life, things which unite us, no matter how different our origins, our interests, our struggle to make life meaningful. At the end of the day these are meetings that matter, to thank God for at the end of the day.