During September the church building at Carlton’s Church of All Nations was under renovation and this fact, when applied to the season of spring and the liturgical season of creation, led the worship planners to hold three of our services outdoors.
So Sunday 8 September, picture the scene….a quintessential early spring morning, calm, warm and peaceful. Our church is physically part of the Carlton housing estate, the home of several thousand people, and the second Sunday is the time when we open the drop-in centre to welcome locals to a barbecue meal.
Worship ….a table with a cross, a sand tray in which to receive our gleanings from the flower beds nearby, seagulls hovering about, a lovely paved setting partly shaded by the casuarinas, readings from scripture and modern poetry, the sound of people gathering for the barbecue, a powerful yet gentle sense of being in and of the community of Carlton.
Part of the service was an invitation to turn our hands to the garden around the church building so we set off – gathering gloves, spades, secateurs and black garbage bags – for 20 minutes of gardening. Not a break from worship but an expression of worship.
Returning to the worship space, now joined by still more seagulls, we sang that beautiful hymn of Shirley Murray’s:
“Let there be greening, birth from the burning, water that blesses and air that is sweet, health in God’s garden, hope in God’s children, regeneration that peace will complete.” [Together in Song 668].
The next Sunday we set off on a guided indigenous walk through the nearby University of Melbourne. We discovered a small grove of trees which were thought to pre-date European settlement, certainly the coming of the university and all of its buildings.
On the final Sunday of the season of creation we ended our worship with a picnic at the Brickworks Park, Clifton Hill.
Fortunately, our worshipping outdoors was assisted by some pleasant weather. It certainly is good, at least occasionally, to get out of our building and worship God the Creator – even in the inner city.
By Mac Nicoll and John Evans