The Church follows the Lord on a public year-long pilgrimage through the fasts and feasts of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost and Trinity.
The Church is the body of Christ passing through the world. When people see us processing through our town centres they are able to acknowledge that it is our Christian witness that we are bringing them. Christian worship is a public demonstration that God brings all contraries together, and puts them face-to-face in reconciliation, and side-by-side in fellowship. The world that looks on can see this meeting and, if it wishes, recognise this reconciliation and decide that it wants to become part of it.
In some seasons the church is a large and noisy demonstration passing through a crowded town centre. During the feasts of the Church year we are celebrating and on carnival. The world will part on each side to let us through and some will join us as we go. We bless the world by greeting everyone as Christ’s future people. We greet them as examples of Christ’s body rejected, lost and forlorn, and we greet them as future members of his body redeemed, restored and made joyful.
At other times, during the fasts, we are on a demonstration of our public repentance and remorse. We are going out into neighbourhood and nation to bring them comfort and to repent for not having brought that comfort to them sooner. In our public processions we sing and bless. We sing psalms and hymns in alternation. We pray and intercede, kneeling together and keeping silence for long moments. So the form of our progress is simultaneously the way of the resurrection and glory, and the way of the cross and shame. As we go, the cross alternates with the glory, so at any one moment we are either repentant or joyful.