Thought for the week, 25th June; Forest Church

Last week, we held another “Forest Church”. It is not a good name; it rarely takes place in forests and it is not really church, at least as most people understand it. It does involve finding inspiration to respond to God from being outdoors, but beyond that there is no set pattern. Previously I have held events in Billingsley and Glazeley churchyards, largely because there was a building close at hand in case of rain. The activity depends on who turns up; we have had meditations, music and an informal communion. The one thing common to all events is silence, to listen to the natural world and hopefully, through that, also to God. The most recent event was at New England, now a quiet place on a brook, once a hamlet. We finally moved away from a church into at least a wood! I spoke about the history of the area and the communities that had flourished there or benefitted from it; the first sewerage treatment work in Highley was opened there before the First World War. We had a Bible reading, a passage from Ecclesiasticus, praising the contributions of craftsmen and manual workers. However, this does not mention God and I think I only used the G-word once, as we reflected on what we had seen and felt during a time when people did their own exploration of the area. But God is bigger than we can possibly imagine and can reach us in ways we do not understand. Those of us who came spoke about the peace and the tranquillity we experienced; perhaps the next time we hear the phrase “the peace of God”, the evening at New England will give that extra meaning.