PCC ‘Away Day’ & ‘Lectio Divina’

Published on 8th September, 2015

Prayer Card Image

 Somewhat dauntingly entitled ‘Lectio Divina’, our ‘Away Day’ on Saturday, 5th September in the welcoming setting of St Thomas’s Church, Birchgrove, enabled us to meet as representatives of the members of our four Benefice churches to explore our ideas about what ‘being Christian’ means and our beliefs about the Bible, given its centrality in our faith, worship, and witness. The only daunting aspect of the day turned out to be the breakneck speed with which we were challenged to delve deep into matters of faith and doctrine and marshal our thoughts into some semblance of order!

The day began simply and fittingly with a celebration of Holy Communion in St Thomas’s itself before we moved into the church hall for tea and biscuits. Our soul-searching began! As an ice-breaker, we were each directed to share with a member from another Benefice church a Biblical text which was important to us and explain why. This was merely the first of a series of such exercises we were given, many of which we were supposed to discuss in pairs. The mathematics of this would have worked out had an even number of people been present! As it was, anarchy quickly developed as we grouped ourselves in almost any number apart from two!

Discussing in pairs!

Discussing in pairs!

But it didn’t seem to matter – discussion raged fast and furious, except when we were given such questions as: ‘What is the Holy Spirit?’ and presented with ten statements requiring ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answers: then deep silence prevailed as we wrestled with what our own beliefs were and what we thought the ‘correct’ doctrinal position might be! But we weren’t talking doctrine, we were talking practical Christianity: the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to fit us to help other people.

We were asked, in groups of four – but ours numbered eight! – to draw up a list of ten prioritised points about what ‘being Christian’ meant to us and record our conclusions on a flip-chart. One of the disappointments of the day was that, because of the exigencies of time-keeping, there was no opportunity for the groups to compare notes about their conclusions.

Recording our conclusions

Recording conclusions –
but unfortunately there was not enough time to discuss them.

Our conclusions

Our conclusions – and marks out of 10!

Although challenging, it was all good-humoured and great fun. The day was organised with military precision by Jonathon, our Assistant Curate ( in pre-ordination life a logistics expert in the Royal Navy ). As a Biblical scholar currently working on his PhD thesis on Jewish pseudepigraphy and transmission, he was obviously on home ground as he dealt knowledgeably with Biblical sources and history. More impressive still was the passion with which he advocated prayerful daily reading of the Bible in our private devotions as in public liturgical worship; and the care with which he had prepared useful hand-out materials for us and a book list of relevant resources.

Jonathon, the logistics expert, in action!

Jonathon, the logistics expert, in action!

And a prayer card –
one of the hand-out materials:

Prayer Card Imageimg023

Church in Wales Rule of Life
In response to the love of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
I offer my life to God and commit myself to:

Praying and listening to God daily,   worshipping with the church, and being fed by Him in the Eucharist;

Growing in my understanding of God
by daily Bible reading and reflection,
and learning together with the church;

Serving God in my daily life and work;

Sharing God’s gifts of time, talents, and
money with my neighbours, the church,
the community and the world.

Our study-session ended with a recital of the Mid-day Office, after which the Rector thanked Jonathon on behalf of us all for the thought, care, and planning he had given to preparing for the ‘Away Day’. We are also most grateful to Elaine Hickman and Rhona Edwards of St Thomas’s for the welcome refreshments they kindly provided for us.