A hand on your shoulder

Yesterday I co-led All Age Worship (family service to those of us who grew up in the 80s) in which we journeyed round the church listening to the story of Jesus appearing to his disciples as they travelled to a place called Emmaus. On our journey we thought about where we found God outside church, in scripture, in the sacraments and in our relationships.

I was a bit worried about this service as usually in our church things are reasonably polished and if I am even just giving out the hymns I write down exactly what I am going to say. This time however we had no time for rehearsals, the service sheets were all a bit of a muddle and we had double the number of people that I was expecting there.

So it was a bit raggedy but for me it was great to be a bit flexible and spontaenous and it gave us lots of freedom. So when I read these questions late on Saturday night in a wonderful book on prayer I had the freedom to include them in our service. unnamedThe questions were very simple – and according to this book they were used by my favourite ever saint, Francis of Assisi in his long nights of prayer in a cave – they were ‘Lord, who am I? Lord, who are you?’

So this was the question I asked at the beginning of the service (without the Lord bit because I would rather use something more open to talk about God)  and as we finished early (no rehearsal and timings all wrong) we had time to talk about them at the end. It was a short conversation but really memorable. Interestingly, people were more willing to talk about who God was than who they were but some of the things that stuck in my mind were ‘the one to whom I can trust the people I love,’  ‘God is love and I am learning to love’ and from an 11-year-old boy ‘God is like a hand on your shoulder.’

Afterwards I heard more answers from people and it seemed the questions went to the heart of struggles faced by women and men, teenagers, children and older people. Now I just need to find the time to start to answer those questions for myself and to live in the loving presence of God who is as close as a hand on your shoulder.

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