It has certainly been an interesting week for Christians fishing the internets. No doubt you will have all seen that video. You know the one. Where instead of the vicar giving a solo performance of All Things Bright and Beautiful they danced like David danced. One person dancing that starts a movement. The few who have been prepped join in as the brave first followers until a whole church has caught on and is celebrating the love of that their friends have for each other. Not just a whole church though, a whole nation joins in their joy. From just 3 minutes of joyful celebration within an hour long ceremony to a week of celebration.
Drawing on a plethora of biblical imagery Martin Smith penned the words “they will dance with joy like we’re dancing now” in 1994’s worship leader smash hit Over The Mountains and The Sea. My best friend at university would nudge me and whisper “standing completely still looking embarrassed”? 20 years later and Martin Smith’s prayers are answered. They danced for joy.
As the church continues to foster authentic faith that engages people who do not naturally see themselves as The Church ™, there are some pertinent questions that this celebration raises. For many Fresh Expressions I keep asking what happens when it comes to Baptism, Marriage and Funerals? Do you abandon the “culturally authentic” church you feel at home in and knock on the vicarage door at the prettiest church you can find? Do you express your faith, no matter how fledgeling it may be in a way that fulfills both the legal and cultural needs of the occasion.
It is clear that lots of “traditional Anglicans” were affronted by the idea of celebrating in church. Words such as “solemnity of the occasion” have been run through an online thesaurus by a number of commentators. The pervading media narrative is “the church is stuffy and out of touch” so Bottleygate has been contrary to the narrative, as is most of church life. AuntyBettyGate (the old lady who needed the loo during Bottleygate) has shown that many in the media want to keep that narrative going as it is the story they have chosen to tell. “The church is dying because you’re all stuffy. Don’t do anything that isn’t stuffy, it doesn’t fit with our narrative”.
From the reaction of some I am glad you guys weren’t at my wedding. 15 years ago as two twenty year olds were joined in holy matrimony the church erupted to the high voltage punk rock vibe of Pennywise. As the loud guitars and occasional naughty word filled the sacred space my new wife and I ran from the chancel step and out of the church doors to look each other in the eye and bounce up and down shouting “we just got married”.