Becky Garrison, author of Jesus Died for This? kindly invited me to the facebook launch event for her book — so I invited her right back to tell us all about it. Here, in an excerpt adapted from the book, Becky reflects on her pilgrimage to the UK and Ireland where one of her highlights was connecting with Grace, a London-based Christian alternative worship community/network:
Jonny Baker, one of the leaders of Grace, and his buddies like international missiologist Andrew Jones and Steve Collins, a blogger who chronicles alternative worship/emerging church history showed me how they had moved from planning worship services to forming Christian communities. While my late father’s (the Rev. Dr. Karl Claudius Garrison, Jr.) forays into the Jesus revolution in the sixties seemed focused on finding inner peace, these folks sought to live out their faith by putting Christ’s teachings into practice. These were the type of gatherings my heart had been longing for ever since the US Episcopal charismatic bubble burst back in the 1980s.
Since I’ve used Grace’s liturgies and Jonny’s music for my own personal devotions, this was my one must-see stop when I came to London. Steve’s warm welcome and Jonny Baker’s ambient music, coupled with the video projections and beanbag chair, made this church sanctuary feel like—well, like “home.”
Like a number of other UK communities I’ve met, the members of Grace inform the ethos of their gatherings by bringing in the technologies and media of their everyday lives—TV, video, iPods, computers, face-to-face-conversations. They employ these tools not to create cool worship but so they can connect with each other, using those particular pieces that speak to them. Instead of eschewing culture, communities like Grace seek to follow the example of Jesus, who both immersed himself in the culture of his day and challenged it. Each group is shaped by the uniqueness of its specific setting; a community based in, say, London, Manchester, or Oxford will take on the vibe of that particular city’s cultural milieu.
Placing my candle on a set of feet, I prayed I would find the strength to walk with Christ without being quite so bowlegged.
That night’s gathering reflect on the Rule of Life for the Grace community: create, participate, engage, and risk. During the service we gathered into small groups around cutout drawings of footprints. Then we were given a candle and asked to reflect on what prayers we needed for where we were going on our journey. Placing my candle on a set of feet, I prayed I would find the strength to walk with Christ without being quite so bowlegged.
Afterward, we gathered for a bit of wine, food, and fellowship. Worshiping with my online UK buddies reminded me of the need to connect with each other not only virtually but also face-to-face. The televangelists might claim that they can cure for cash through the TV, but all throughout his ministry, Jesus healed people one touch at a time (Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke :41-56). No matter how plugged-in we get, I can’t hug my laptop. And the ritual partaking of the Last Supper entails that we feed each other actual bread and wine.
- “Jesus” for Sale @ Killing the Buddha
- Follow Becky on twitter: @jesusdied4this
- Review by Jonny Baker: jesus died for this? – becky garrison is on a quest
Zondervan, August 2010