Some thirty Shechemites met at Egham to share food and news, to worship and think about a liturgy for Shechem.
In order, we had an inspiring time of worship and then listened to a talk by Mark on liturgies from different communities. Liturgy (structured prayer) was not something to be frightened or appalled by, but was a way to create space in busy lives, to help us listen to God. Mark mentioned prayers used by the Third Order of Franciscans, Taize Community, Iona and the Northumbria Community. Different people he said organise their times of prayer in different ways, at different times, some like a special place, some just like to pray in a chair or in bed.
We then split into three groups with the aim of putting together some suggested morning, midday and evening prayers for Shechem. The different groups succeeded in producing a prayer, or an idea for a prayer, and had quite different and interesting approaches. The morning prayer suggests different prayers for each day reflecting different parts of our rule of life, the midday prayer features food (especially appropriate for Shechem!?) and the evening prayer uses nature images from Holton Lee in order to reflect on giving things to God at the end of the day. The completed rhythm of prayer is now available online.
We hope to continue working on the liturgy ideas at the annual weekend. Mark provided some other words for liturgy such as: Patterns, Hooks for worship, Minimal structure providing space, Framework or Scaffolding. The hope is that we will come up with things that we can use both when we meet together as Shechem and also when on our own.
We then had lunch - as we were quite a small group we managed to all get around one big table, which was nice. A number of extra helpings were taken!
After lunch, most of us went for a walk to the river Thames, skilfully evading the very fast traffic on the by-pass. We were grateful to Sonia for staying behind and putting together an order of service with bread and wine using one of the prayers from earlier. The service was followed by tea with a large selection of cakes, and departure.