We’ve been thinking a lot about worship recently at FX HQ – and as our recent interview with Sara Hargreaves highlighted, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to encounters of a divine nature. As FX practitioners we express our belief that God doesn’t have a musical preference, a penchant for expressive dance, or even a particular attachment to whether our worship raises the roof of a major venue or happens in the woods in the silence of a holy moment.
Worship is about encounter, about the experience of meeting with God, and about the way that this outplays in our lives – and of course these moments are as unique as the people who seek them. It was a total pleasure, therefore, to spend time chatting with Eddie Green of the Sanctum collective recently – learning a little of how Sanctum expresses worship through sacraments, hearing about their annual gathering, and finding out how other FX folk who are wondering if there are experimental sacramental networks out there (there are!) can get involved.
“The best example of worship is the life of Jesus”, Eddie told us. “His was a life in total relationship with God, serving others, seeking out those on the edges, and sacrifice. As sacramental Christians, we believe that through sharing in sacraments we are participating in the full cycle of worship expressed through Jesus’ life – his life, death and resurrection.” Sounds good to us – after all, there is so much of faith that can’t be put into words that rituals, symbols, indeed anything which helps us to discover and translate what we believe is a vital part of the tapestry of our Christian lives. But for Eddie and the Sanctum collective, participating in the sacraments goes deeper than a handy way of expressing what we feel. “These physical symbols are a window to the supernatural. Baptism, the Eucharist, anointing… these provide spaces where we can meet with God in a profound way. Times where the physical and supernatural come together.”
Sanctum is a network which has evolved organically from relationships forged over many years. Believing that worship is vital to mission, and that sacramental worship can connect and engage with people from all walks of life and in many contexts – the core team now oversee a network that aims to support, resource and encourage practitioners. “There are lots of interesting conversations happening about how we can worship creatively whilst engaging with our culture, about the rediscovery of the intimacy and significance of the sacraments. Through Sanctum we make these conversations public, giving a space for practitioners to reflect together,” shared Eddie.
An annual gathering provides a focus point for the network, with this summer’s event at Mirfield well attended by a core group plus others who come along to see what it’s all about. “It’s about passing on the baton,” explains Eddie. “Many of our long-standing collective members have moved from their pioneering roles into more established posts – our task then is to pass the baton well, to share our experience but also encourage emerging practitioners to create new things for their own context.”
Sounds good to us – at FX we love to see hopes and dreams explored together as a rich diversity of worshipping styles are outworked in different ways in different places. Perhaps you are a practitioner pioneering sacramental worship in a new context, or maybe you have already established a FX which hasn’t had a sacramental focus but you feel the need for that within your gatherings? The Sanctum collective exist to support and encourage no matter what point you’re at – they will even come and visit you in your own context if that’s what you’d like. Whilst the core team can offer training and events, the focus is increasingly on pointing to work that is happening across the network and connecting practitioners to support each other. Interested? Head to www.sanctumcollective.co.uk, look them up on Facebook and send a follow request to their group, ‘Sanctum Connect’.
“It’s easy to think that what was relevant to us at significant moments in our faith should be relevant to others,” Eddie reflected. “We always seem to think we know what’s relevant. However, at Sanctum we believe that the sacraments are open windows for all to encounter God. It’s about keeping the questions open…”