Late Saturday night I did something I have never done before, I went to Church! It wasn’t any ordinary church, there were no hymns, no sermons and no communion. What we found there instead was a DJ playing ambient trance music, art installations, beautiful thought provoking poems, a chair made of angel wings, free hot spiced apple drink and mince pies!
The event was called Church for the Night, it’s something that has been set up by club lover, DJ, dancer and Bournemouth’s club chaplin Michael French. Being a club chaplin involves being on the streets of Bournemouth late at night showing kindness, support and love to people who might need it after a big night out. After experiencing what Bournemouth is like walking sober through the streets at 1am on Saturday night I can see how this work must touch so many people! It was a just like those scenes you see on the TV about “binge drinking Britain!!!!
Michael set up the event called Church for the Night to open up a Church in the centre of Bournemouth to be somewhere people could just stumble upon and have an experience within a space of God. It’s right in the centre of Bournemouth round the corner from a whole strip of bars and clubs. They put a speaker outside the front of the church and light up the inside which naturally draws people in through curiosity. It’s a safe place people can pop into in the middle of their night out if they feel they need it.
Churches have such a special atmosphere, an energy, being places of worship over many years, just sitting inside one can bring about a sense of peace and God. That really is simply what Church for the Night is all about, they don’t force religious views on you, the idea is just to be thought provoking and a chance to experience God with out having to go to a church service.
On Saturday night we were speaking about how it’s so much easier to speak to people about “being spiritual”, “The Universe” and Eastern philosophies like Buddhism. Our generation seem to be far more open to that than talking about “being a Christian”. There often still seems to be such a negative reaction or resistance to it. From my point of view I think that might be from going to a religious school, being taken to church when I didn’t really want to go and so on it has felt a bit forced upon me. Where as something like Buddhism and other Spiritual ways of thinking are something you seem to discover naturally through people you speak to and your own curiosity. Anything that feels forced upon you will often create resistance. Add to that all the talk of being a sinner and out of date ways of thinking (for example homophobia) it’s not really surprising.
One thing that inspired me on Saturday night was when Michael was telling us a story about his friends getting married in the Church we were sat in. As he has great contacts within that church they allowed him to set up DJ decks on the pulpit and for 30 minutes before the Bride come in they blasted out drum and bass music! I absolutely love the idea of that! A church service with decks on the pulpit! Church doesn’t have to be the traditional experience we all think of, worshipping God can be done in all manner of ways and music you love creates a spiritual experience. I believe dancing is a way to connect to your soul, you can really get lost in the moment.
Over the past year or so have been slowly exploring my faith, my time in the ashram last January really made me realise I do believe in God. My resistance and worry about what other people will think when I say that is slowly disappearing. Church doesn’t really work for me but meditation, prayer, speaking to people about it and exploring it together is what feels right for me. I do believe that God has looked after me over the years, my parents are religious and my mother has often prayed for me. I have been in some dangerous or simply hard situations in my life but have always been OK.
So that’s my “being honest” post for this week, simply being honest about the journey I am on to learn more about Christianity. I don’t know where it will end up. I like the philosophies of Buddhism and Yoga too but I think there is a space for all of that to be intergrated. So it’s simply a time for exploration but I am enjoying where it is taking me so far!