I remember in particular that Pentecost, long and merry ago now, when we thought we would use doves as a living illustration for the Pentecost sermon. It was a classic Pentecost, with all the traditional activities already concluded:
- The helium balloons had slipped their strings, and were interfering with Air Traffic Control over Luton
- The popcorn maker (symbolic of the hot air of the preacher bringing life to the kernels of God within each person - there may have been some minor heresy in this illustration) had produced tons of tasty popcorn, before unexpectedly catching fire in a very Pentecost-y way.
- The local Pentecostals had come round to explain that the Holy Spirit is a Person of God, powerful and awesome in her work (they didn't say "her"), challenging our presuppositions and shining a holy light on those things we'd rather keep dark - and not some add-on to worship to make us feel all gooey. Naturally, we'd chased them away for spreading these strange doctrines.
- We'd opened up the sluice gate and allowed the Husborne Brook to flow gently through its course through the Moot House, while we sang "River wash over me".
- The party poppers had been let off (after we'd blown out all the tea lights) to express the exuberance of the Spirit.
So it was time for our big finale - the doves. Does anyone know the difference between doves and pigeons? have to confess I don't, but I'm sure they should have been white instead of their kind of random selection of gray and white.
The idea was that, when we opened the cage, the doves would fly around the community, blessing us with their grace and feathery wonder, and then settle in the new dove cote we'd built in the roof of the Moot House. Having minds of their own, as it turned out, they left rather a nasty mess on the roofs and windscreens of the cars in the car park, and then disappeared towards the woods.
I'd like to think we learnt something, but I've no idea what it is.