A small, bare tree sits in a pot, front and centre. Round about the tree, scattered on the floor, are a string of lights and some decorations with blank backs to them; it is the blank sides that are visible to the audience. Person B comes toward it, attending to it, looking at it almost in awe. Person A stands at a distance, looking at B, but shaking his head and shrugging his shoulders.
B: Oh! Hello there – you come to admire it too? Isn’t it JUST lovely?
A: Um, well, uhhh…. NO! Not really.
B: What!? How can it not be beautiful?
A: Well look at it. All you’ve got is some bare twigs stuck in a pot – and by the looks of it, they are all dead; there’s no sign of life there….. Where’s the beauty in that?
B: Well look at it another way – think of all the potential of these “dry twigs”.
A: What potential? All I see is some dead twigs stuck in a pot – that’s where it ends!
B: OK, well, let me ask you this – what do you picture when you think of church?
A: Hmm, I see the similarity – certainly in this case (looks around St Peter’s). An old, cold building that’s falling down in some places.
B: Yes, that might be the church BUILDING, but how about the church…. The living Church?
A: What do you mean? A church is a church is a church….. and hopefully most of the people in the churchyard are not living anymore….
B: No, not the churchyard, the people who make up the body of the church – the living church.
A: Oh! You mean the few people who trickle in here on a Sunday morning? OK, so they may be alive (some of them just…..) but how is that a living church?
B: It’s the things they do to make this a living church – it’s the organist who comes to practise the organ a couple of times a week, the choir who come and practise on a Friday night, the cleaners who come in to clean the church (and the toilets), it’s the people who arrange the flowers to enhance our worship, it’s the people who welcome us as we come to worship each Sunday; it’s the small group who worship together on a Wednesday morning, it’s the people who make coffee and tea at the end of worship, the people who lead our young folk each week, the young people themselves, the people who serve – some of them getting here at 9.00 am on a Sunday morning to get it all ready…. It’s the people who read scripture for us, and those who lead us in prayer. It’s the wardens, the Readers, the priests….. It’s the social committee who makes delicious lunches, the worship committee who prepares ideas for the services; it’s the people who look after our buildings and community centre…. It’s all those who give money each week or each month or each year to help with the costs of running a living church, whose money allow us to help those people in the world less fortunate than us…..
As B is saying each ‘duty’ he wraps a string of lights round the tree and then a child and an adult get a decoration from round the church – off the rota sheets and puts the decoration on to the tree.
A: And, well, what if someone wanted to be part of that living church? How would I, um, they, go about it?
B: Well, that’s easy – just do it! And today is a good day to begin! It’s the start of a new year in the church, so you could make a new year’s resolution – or a promise, if you like – to do something to be part of that living church. Join the servers or welcomers or cleaners – sign up to any of the rotas; think about giving some money – perhaps a pound for each cup of coffee you drink in a week? There will be some folk who already give of their time and money – but they too can think about adding to that. Life changes, people come and go. Those of us who are part of the here-and-now living church must make sure it continues to live and grow.
B then switches the lights on and asks:
So, now when you look at this tree, what is it that you see?
A: Now I see light and life.
Everyone is then invited to make their pledge on the blank side of a decoration that will be handed out and to come and hang it on the tree.