22 November 2007

Words and signs

The theme of Communion continued to be explored on the second day of the Drenched in Grace conference in Swanwick. Rev Dr Sharon Moughtin-Mumby, who had agreed to speak on the Liturgy of the Word, was unfortunately not able to be present, but a thought-provoking talk she had written, 'Out of the Silence', was delivered on her behalf. She suggested that, in approaching the Bible, sometimes the voice of God could be found not only in the written texts but also in the gaps, rather as Elijah heard that voice not in the mighty wind or fire or earthquake but rather in a strong silence. It was in the wilderness that Jesus discerned his mission, and he was silent before Pontius Pilate. Sometimes, perhaps, it is necessary to sit with silence, not avoid painful areas and be ready to encounter God in unexpected places.

Rev Dr Louis Weil spoke challengingly on the meaning of Baptism in 'When Signs Signify: the Baptismal Covenent in its Sacramental Context'. He warned of the risk that its significance might be undermined, its theological context trivialised, if it were seen simply as reciting a set of words without any real transformation of people's lives. Conference participants then renewed their baptismal vows, reaffirming their belief in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and pledging to continue in their practice of faith, including the apostles' teaching and fellowship, perseverance and repentance, proclamation of the Good News, seeking and serving Christ in all persons, loving one's neighbour as oneself and striving for justice and peace.

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