More first impressions

This morning was my first (proper) visit to St. Andrew’s, Brussels. I was made very welcome and was bombarded with names that I will probably forget or get mixed up, but it was nice that so many people introduced themselves to me.

The service itself was an interesting ‘mix’. I think that the most striking thing is the robed choir (who sound amazing and really help lead and enhance the singing) and even a robed junior choir (who sang an introit). Yet this, very visibly, ‘traditional’ element of the service belied the more relaxed, almost informal, atmosphere for the rest. There was no ‘stuffiness’ in any other parts of the service. It was friendly, open and inclusive. There were lots of noisy kids, but that was ok, because that’s what families are like (and something I was glad Camelon prepared me for).

Perhaps the other striking thing, certainly as you survey the congregation, is the very obvious multi-national representation. It is, literally, gathered from all parts of the world. The African groups in particular strike a very eye-catching note with beautiful and colourful ‘Sunday best’ clothes. In many ways, such a congregation becomes a picture of the world church, gathered under one roof, as one family, praising God. There’s something quite ‘exciting’ about such an environment and it definitely merits some reflection on what it means to be ‘church’ and especially how that translates back into a ‘typical’ Scottish parish setting.

So, first impressions were overwhelmingly positive and there’s a lot of scope for exploring ideas about worship, about church family and about ‘being church’. I think that this placment is shaping up to be exciting and challenging and will also have an impact on my future ministry. I can’t help but think about how blessed I’ve been so far. Every placement, including the pre-acceptance ones have allowed me to learn something, to grow in some way and to ‘think bigger’. I know that that’s the whole point, but I can’t help but feel that the impression some others give (or indeed some others have genuinely experienced) is that placements are something to just get through. But there’s such a rich seam of experience and knowledge to be mined in them. It doesn’t matter if you agree theologically or stylistically, there will always be something that you can learn.

So, here’s to another 11 weeks or so of learning and challenge.

3 responses to “More first impressions”

  1. Hi John,
    Sounds like a wonderfully cosmopolitan place ! A rich vein of experience clearly lies ahead of you. Every blessing (and don’t forget to have time for yourself in all this !) 

  2. “Every placement, including the pre-acceptance ones have allowed me to learn something, to grow in some way and to ‘think bigger’.” I do agree! Even if not “bigger” then differently – at least to get out of the comfort zone so that we are better equipped to minister to different types of people. I know that what suits me in worship does not suit everyone and loud praise-band type worship leaves me utterly cold, but is adored by others.

    The biggest thing I got from my placement was permission to take risks, but even more – permission to fail. This is helping me to find my true “voice”.

    Your new placement sounds exciting! Enjoy it and enjoy Brussels – I know it well – a much under-rated city!

  3. Sounds great!  I’m with you on the placements issue.  It’s the same thing you encounter on teacher training courses where students genuinely see placements as something to be survived.  I on the other hand was devastated to leave both schools!  Both were very different with different challenges but I learned so much.  Have a great summer!

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