Wednesday, 16 June 2010

that 'most perfect school of Christ'...

Wall of the Reformers, Geneva:
Farel, Calvin, Beze, Knox 

Since the last blogpost I've been on a whistle-stop tour with a group of trainee Church of Scotland ministers to Geneva which, according to my main man Knoxy, was that 'most perfect school of Christ'.  
Things have certainly changed since JK's time, but it was just fabby:
to wander around the old town;
saunter about the Reformation Museum and then later the Museum of Geneva; 
spend a day at the World Council of Churches and then a trip to the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey; 
see the astonishing Reformation wall - hadn't realised just how big it was;
worship in both the Cathedral and the English speaking 'exiles' church.

For this Early Modern historian-type, it was heaven on a plate, and there were many high points.  
Possibly the two biggest personal highs, however, were:
reading a lesson in the Auditoire during Sunday worship...
sharing a brief act of worship with friend John [no, not Knox!] in the Auditoire Calvin on the Friday night.  
Having visited the World Council of Churches that day, we placed symbols of different approaches to following Christ [rosary, icon, candle, open bible] on a small table in the middle of the group and picked up the theme of unity and diversity.  
We read from John 17 - Jesus' prayer for unity.  
We also read extracts from the very first sermon preached to the Marian exiles - by Christopher Goodman - and recently transcribed by my supervisor, who'd kindly sent it to me as she knew I'd be interested.  
Alluding to the discord and disunity in the Frankfurt church, Goodman's sermon was a call for unity.  
It was quite an awesome thing to read his words - long lost and recently discovered - in the place where he had preached them over 450 years before.
After a brief discussion on 'unity not uniformity, and diversity, not division', we rounded off with the prayer of unity, the Lord's Prayer and then stood and said the Grace.  
What made it particularly special was that there had been several odd 'coincidences' leading up to the actual worship service:
John and I had joked about 'stirring' the Reformed worship pot a little a few weeks before we went to Geneva... so I had packed a rosary and icon... and we'd already decided upon using John 17 before we arrived in Geneva.  
We didn't realise [I hadn't looked when I organised the worship rota] that we'd be on worship duty the same day as the WCC visit.  
During that visit, one of the speakers used the John 17 passage...
Worship had normally been conducted in the place we were staying and the night before, we'd decided to use the Goodman stuff... however, on the evening, we found out we'd actually be worshipping in the Auditoire where Goodman and Knox had worshipped.  Goodman's words in Goodman's church - neat.
If we had actually planned all of it, we couldn't have done it better as to effectively setting the scene.  I love it when a plan comes together in such a serendipitous way.   


Freda said...

A wonderful place to learn about the things that bring us together and to accept one another. I had a memorable week at Bossey myself, a number of years ago. Pleased to hear the worship worked out so well. Safe travel

Nik said...

thanks Freda - it truly was a whistle-stop tour... I'm back already! And it was great :)

Martin Ritchie said...

All sounds amazing Nikki.