In the end cafe church this coming Sunday is not quite like we did in prism - for one thing I don't have a whole day to cement broken tiles to an mdf cross (come to think of it, I don't have an mdf cross!)
I have, however, been reflecting on Paul Simon's lovely Surprise album and have cast a gathering around it and Romans 8 called 'Paul Simon and the groaning world'. Using three songs from the album - I don't believe, wartime prayers and how on earth can you live in the north-east? - we'll reflect on what the world is like and what our call is as God's heirs in the world in the light of some of Simon's observations.
I'll post my concluding monologue - about five minutes - after Sunday evening. I've found Simon's wrestling with the way of the world and his sense of being haunted by the divine very moving. it's an album of rich and deep meditations on the isolation of the human condition and the need to make some kind of connection with a power bigger than ourselves. He wonders on the opening track whether that might just be the nation we inhabit, that maybe if we rose above our cultures and religions, we might be able to live together. But those thoughts are shattered 9/11 and the subsequent war. It seems our cultures trap us in default responses - only prayer can rescue us.
And what do God's heirs have to say about this? I'll let you know...
I think Romans 8 is a rich resource for us as we dialogue with people like Paul Simon and the countless thousands on the planet he in some way speaks for. We are called to share the agony of the creation we're a part of and find the groaning God in our hearts whose presence strengthens us to play our part in bringing about redemption.
So if you're a fan of Paul Simon and live in Bromley, come and join the conversation. You can't miss us - on Sunday evening, we'll be the church playing the sweetest music!