Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Possessors of the Kingdom

It is a fact universally acknowledged that when you start a blog post with the first line from Pride and Prejudice, you're struggling for originality.

Never known an evening "Filling up of Beakers" like just now. It's all the fault of the Little Pebbles Half-Term Holiday Special Glittery Church - a version of Messy Church that recognizes that what small children like, above all, is the use of glitter glue and sequins.

I mean, a lot of glitter glue and sequins. We used to see what the Little Pebbles were doing, and go "oh, look - shiny, isn't it?" Encourage them to make things shiny. Little knowing that it was merely the thin end of the glitter-glue tube.

But this afternoon, in anticipation of the week's theme, the Half Term Holiday Special Glittery Church was looking at the Ascension.

What do we know, from what St Luke tells us, about the Ascension? There were angels there. And what do angels mean? Silver glitter. Jesus went up into the sky. What is also in the sky? The sun. And what does the sun mean? Gold glitter.

And so it went on. The disciples were standing on a hillside, presumably with some grass. Green glitter glue, with green sequins. There was, at least according to little Torquil, a stream running by. Blue sequins.

You would think there would only be so much glitter in the world. Turns out, you would be wrong. I have an awful feeling that, somewhere in Poland, workers are currently toiling to meet the demands of the English Church's glitter glue demands - demands that are on the rise, and showing no signs of levelling off.

I suspect it's a kind of reaction against the way the English Church has gone, this last century or so. From the glory and colour of late Victorian Oxford Movement wonder, we've headed into the tweed jacket and open-necked shirt of the world of Alpha in a way that may have done wonders for inward devotion, maybe, but has blown apart the idea of every sense being involved in the worship of our incarnate God.

I mean, once you'd have had the smell of heaven, the glow of gold, the plumes of smoke, the beauty of the music. And now you've got some sappy over-head-projected background to the words of a song that's basically penal atonement, set to music. Something had to give. And if the adults were gonna keep pretending this was OK  that the riches of 2,000 years of faith were a fair price to pay for some one-dimension atonement theology and a decent guitar solo, the kids weren't gonna stand for it.

And so, quietly, sneakily, by the cunning whiles of the kids and the shininess of their art and the accidental encouragement of their leaders, the Little Pebbles have been stockpiling the European glitter glue lake without us knowing it. All stored in the Liturgical Storage Space, at the end of the Corridor of Uncertainty, that leads from the Great House to the doors of the Moot House.

And today, working on 24-hour delivery because that's the kind of service the Internet-savvy eight-year-old expects, the online glitter glue company of choice for the Little Pebbles delivered 12 more dumpy bags of glitter glue.

To be honest, it was just too much glitter glue. Unknown to most of us, the dam had been under pressure for days. Checking the indicators now, it had been critical since Tuesday. But like the hole in the ozone layer, nobody was checking the dials, because nobody knew there was a problem.

Sure enough, the levee broke and I had no place to stay. Nor did anyone else. A six-foot wall of glitter glue poured down the Corridor of Uncertainty, coating everything in shiny stars. Hnaef was covered in purple and stuck to the wall. Charlii and little Celestine dived out the way just in time, leaving Burton Dasset to take the full force of the sparkly tidal wave.

It's had some kind of weird effect on Burton's metabolism. I mean, he's a real man. In the sense that he has no connection with his emotions, thinks in words, and appreciates black and white. I wasn't expecting him suddenly to start singing a selection of "songs from the shows" and New Romantic hits. And, obviously, I had him hosed down immediately.

But here's the thing. There's a trail of shiny gold and silver across every pathway and corridor in the Beaker community. Everything that touches anything else, picks up the glow. You can see the traces of the fun kids have, with a Bible story and a tube of glitter glue, all over the building, down the drive, in people's hair, in people's faces.

Everywhere you go, you see a reminder of a simple faith that involves Jesus, and the earnest desire to reflect everything that has to do with him in shiny colours. Everywhere we walk, we remember that the faith of a child doesn't involve murky half-tones and an obsession with ensuring that everything is black and white.

After all, who needs black and white when you've got gold? I reckon when St John said the heavenly city has gems stuck onto every surface, it's only because they ran out of glitter glue.

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