Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Sensing Lent 18: Muddy Boots

Day 2 of Oxford Diocese Clergy Conference. Holed up with 350 other clerics and surviving...

Last night Bishop Victoria Matthews told an anecdote about an International bishops Conference during which the following question was considered by the great and the good of the assembled Bishops: 'If God wore shoes, what kind of shoes would God wear?'

It was a question posed by a young girl and there were three wise responses: 

1. He would wear dancing shoes (cf. the 'dance' of the Trinity, aka perichoresis - good Trinitarian answer).
2. He would wear hiking boots to get 'down and dirty' with   humanity (good Incarnational answer).
3. We would be invited to take our shoes off together so He could wash our feet (good Maundy Thursday answer).

That's what you get with bishops, I guess - pretty water tight theology with some imagination and liturgical appropriateness thrown in.

The dancing shoes is good. At the On Fire conference I went on (Anglo Catholic/charismatic) Michael Mitton showed a clip of a huge dance that one guy starts and gradually everyone joins in because it's infectious and they catch the vibe. Everyone wants to join the dance. Even think Lord of the Dance. But this wasn't my favourite answer.

The idea of foot washing is still something I haven't come to terms with. I know some Dioceses do it as part of the Ordination service but I just have a mental block with it. Something to do with it being a powerful cultural indicator in Jesus' day of servant hood and a necessary service, which now we do not need due to mostly good footwear. And, more importantly for me, good old English reserve. So that wasn't my favourite answer.

My favourite was the hiking boots picture - God getting 'down and dirty' with humanity. So I went on the walk - the most over subscribed 'workshop' of the afternoon. All those Anglican iNtuitives who cannot wait to clear their intense Anglican thoughts and get out and about in the mud. Mud, a lake, a railway, fallen trees, stiles, sheep, fields, grass and puddles. 

The God who gets his boots muddy with us, and for us, has my vote today.

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