Church without walls

What a fascinating day!  I’ve just returned home from Mass at Mass Rock – sharing worship with a fantastic bunch of people, deep in a forest somewhere in Belfast, well out of my usual comfort zone but well in the ‘shared medley zone’ and loving it!

In the usual Wonderful Way of Dockworld, an unexpected chain of events – a chance encounter leading to a meeting leading to an invitation – led to me being present at tonight’s gathering.  How’s this for a Shared Medley in action: an ancient site used centuries ago for celebrating mass in secret – buried for years in forest undergrowth – cleared by the co-operation of the local Roman Catholic parish, members of a nearby Travelling community and volunteers from Redeemer Central church, and used tonight for a service of worship, communion and fellowship.

To get there we followed Fr Martin, the friendly priest of St Oliver Plunkett’s parish, into the depths of a forest somewhere in a part of Belfast that a Protestant boy like me had never been before… We slipped and slid down muddy pathways, through brambly hedges and down a perilous slope – and then witnessed the amazing sight of several quite elderly and frail-looking members of the parish making the same journey!  Our jungle-exploration efforts led us to a beautiful, quiet clearing with the ‘Mass Rock’ at its centre and a group of people gathering, tuning up guitars and enjoying the summer evening.

This is actually quite a shameful confession but I haven’t actually attended a Roman Catholic Mass before in my life – make of that what you will!  But my experience tonight was one of welcome, hospitality and warmth – I was even invited to help lead the prayers – not bad for my first time!  Sharing the peace and joining in the liturgy (and yes, it was almost all familiar from Church of Ireland services) with this diverse but welcoming group was quite a profound experience for me.  I’ll say it again (and again and again) – Shared Medley works.  This was Church Without Walls in every possible and positive sense…

I didn’t have my video camera with me – but as luck would have it, my snazzy new iPhone (that’s the last time I’ll mention it, promise!) is able to take pretty decent video footage – so look out for a new Dock Movie over the next few days…

2 thoughts on “Church without walls”

  1. Love it!
    (…just wondering how their albs were so clean with all the mud?! – and very much doubt that’s the last mention of the iPhone…)

  2. Chris

    This is an interesting article, I have been reading a book called “Conversations with God” by a chap called Neale Walsh – it challanges everything we currently percieve about what/who/why God is. It is a very risky book and a little un nerving I was wondering if you had heard of it and your view

    Also I had this thought, just when you stated that it was your first visit to a Catholic mass, I feel strongly that I have no denomination and I wish it to be this way. When people ask I tell them I am Christian because to me Denomination is aanother word for division, disagreement and or someone somewhere wanting the meaasage of Jesus to be only the way they percieve it. surely God would find the word Demomination offensive, there is only one message, one Jesus, one church that God recognises! What do you think?

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