Eleven of us from Axmouth Church sat in the Village Hall listening to Katherine Lyddon from Exeter Diocese explain to us why Messy Church is messy. It’s not just because all the craft activities make a mess- although they do- but it’s more to do with the kind of lives that we all lead. None of us have perfectly smooth journeys through life, keeping to our Christian principles and never wandering off the straight and narrow path that we trust will lead us to the Heavenly Kingdom. No- we take wrong turns and fall into the mire, get out again and repeat the same mistakes or make new ones- in fact we all get into a mess.
People outside the church may assume we are ‘righteous’ and feel that they could never aspire to our saintliness- but we ourselves know how far that is from the truth.
Messy Church is a way of involving those people whose Sundays may be taken up by shopping, going to car boots, or resting after a hard week’s work; children of separated parents may be visiting a mother or a father on Sundays, playing sport or catching up with homework. Does the fact that we are religiously going to church on Sundays make us better people? Surely we are called to be Christians every day of the week and every hour of the day. Katherine quoted a line from a hymn by George Herbert- ‘Seven whole days, not one in seven, I will praise thee.’
So Messy Church doesn’t need to be on a Sunday, and it doesn’t need to take place in a church. At its heart is service and sharing, and those who are invited to come are all those who want to. The welcome at the door is the most important action and the shared meal is the expression of mutual concern and enjoyment, when hard-working mothers are given a break from the chore of regular cooking and can relax in the company of other adults and children.
Those who lead Messy Church hope that they can introduce the love of Jesus as shown in the gospel stories to those who know little of this- but it is certainly not a one-way process, and families and individuals who come to Messy Church bring all their life experiences, hopes, concerns and enthusiasms to enrich and deepen the faith of the conventional church-goers.
Will Messy Church work in Axmouth? We’ll keep you posted!