Greenbelt 2011 #gb11 reflections – Sunday – Communion, Phyllis Tickle, Hope & Social


Sunday morning at Greenbelt is always the time set aside for communion. In previous years it has often been cringy and in trying to please everyone, pleased no-one. This year was a total exception!

The service was ‘warmed up’ by IDMC Gospel Choir who got everyone on their feet – I think a gospel choir is the best kind of worship group for a crowd as large as the one in front of the mainstage at Greenbelt. After some opening prayers we were then told we were going to have some ‘dirty gospel’ and to the shock of all of us a guy called Rev Vincent Anderson began the songs with a James Brown-like screech – a grin spread over all our faces as the funky music struck up! Here’s a clip from the Wild Goose festival (the American equivalent of Greenbelt) that gives a bit of a flavour!

The preacher was Nadia Bolz-Weber, a heavily tattooed lutheran pastor from Denver. She preached the best sermon I have heard all year and I was delighted to be able to hear her speak on the art of preaching on the Monday at Greenbelt. Everyone got something from her message from John chapter one on the incarnation. One part I loved was that she reminded us that God chose to have sweat-glands and get the hiccups!

One of the most beautiful parts of the service was the use of coloured ribbons to represent the incarnation. These ribbons parted down the middle just before communion to represent the tearing of the curtain in the temple in two. Here’s a snap that I took and to see much better photos have a look here on Flickr.

So communion this year was a real highlight for me.

Phyllis Tickle

I went to hear Phyllis Tickle speaking on what she terms the ‘great emergence’. It was a quick run through her ideas on how the church is changing. She is clearly an incredibly erudite woman and I think some of her talk was a bit too academic for the crowd that was there – lots of theological language was used with no explanation. It was stimulating, however.

Hope & Social

You know I love Yorkshire based band Hope & Social! They did two performances and I was only able to get to the one in the Performance Cafe (without the horn section) because I was doing a panel discussion at the same time as their Monday gig. They did a lovely intimate set in the big marquee and because I’d had a pint of Crazy Goat cider (6.8%vol!) I did the actions to their song Red Red Rose – on my own. Here’s a clip including Gary Stewart doing his Paul Simon bit:

One comment

  1. Thanks for this positive feed-back on communion. The BEYOND team and St Luke’s Church Brighton with Revd Martin Poole worked very hard on this, 2 years in conception for the ribbon idea, to get it past health and safety! Keep an eye out for other BEYOND events.


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