This afternoon and this evening I have spent time with different parts of the COTA community and I am learning more and more that they, as a group, love each other and enjoy the company of each other.
At 3.00pm I joined the Liturgy Guild. This is a group of people that plan the liturgy for the services. COTA develops seasonal liturgy to reflect the liturgical seasons. Today we were looking at the lectionary readings for Lent and trying to develop the liturgy and practice that COTA will use in the services throughout lent. This was a small but creative group as they sought to find ideas that would help people to connect with God in a significant way and so leave the service changed in some way becasee of an authentic encounter with God.
In remember Karen saying a while ago people wanted the liturgy to change each week. After working with them the practice is now agreed to be seasonal. We are currently in Epiphany and the liturgy and practices for the services reflect that. I like the idea of liturgy and practice for the season. In the Church of England we already follow that practice in the daily offices, but I like the creative ‘write your own’ and ‘curate the service’ approach which I think as a community we can pursue when we start to become more established.
I’ve just realised the excitement this afternoon brought shows me that I love liturgy. I think it is a way we can easily connect with God and express our love in a language that means something. The word, if you don’t know, means ‘work of the people’ and it is pretty impressive how COTA creates this so that it really is the work of the people. The trust from Karen towards this group is amazing too.
After the guild meeting we had COTA Eucharist at 5.00pm. Another creative service. I am not a fan of music in worship. I know its been said by many before, but I do find myself increasingly more frustrated with the songs that people sing in lots of churches. They are not just ‘I love Jesus like my girlfriend’ type songs … but I think it is the shallowness and bizarre theology of some that give me concern.
Despite my aversion to music in worship I find Lacey’s curation of the woship in COTA to be sensitive, stunning and challenging. We sing words and chants that mean something and that allow us to become aware that we are in the presence of God. I am meeting with Lacey tomorrow and look forward to hearing from her about her story and why she leads in this way.
The service tonight was fantastic. It was simple yet profound in a way that allowed us space with God. The structure, or ordo, that COTA uses is great and the ‘open space’ section after the homily, where people can reflect ina variety of ways from using icons to watching video, acknowledges that we are not all one and the same.
COTA is going through an interesting time and the last meeting of the day was after the Eucharist when I joined the group that are making plans for a morning service. COTA is in good shape, it is in the community in various ways and now looking to move from 1 to 2 services on a Sunday at the abbey. I enjoyed being part of the discussions and hearing peopels ideas and dreams of getting this service of the ground.
It’s been a packed and really good day, and I am strting to learn more and more about the COTA community, particularly as options for interaction with people with COTA seem to be increasing.