Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bish Buffs Boots

I guess it's a bit cold for footwashing, so the Maunday Thursday Shoeshine in various Midlands dioceses is the nearest you'll get this year.

Bishop Urquhart will be polishing the shoes of passers-by outside Birmingham cathedral before and after morning service.

He said: "The shoeshine is just a small demonstration that people who follow Jesus are prepared to roll up their sleeves and serve their communities.

I know it's meant to be symbolic, and symbolism is good - it's certainly worked here because the shoeshining has got noticed whilst the work with the homeless, poor, refugees, alcoholics, ex-offenders, etc. etc. hasn't. I'm slightly cautious because I know too many stories of churches coming up with a bright idea for raising their profile in the community, but it was something that had no relevance to their community at all. Mike Breen tells of his church in Brixton surveying the local community and finding, to their surprise, that the most frequently mentioned gripe was litter. So the church went litter picking.

Service has to relate to need, and then symbolic service like the shoe-shining works by giving a picture to the community which accurately interprets all the other things the church is doing.

1 comment:

  1. OK, now I believe you. Yesterday I had the impression that the act was performed in a quasi-liturgical setting - in this context it has more symbolism. Maybe we can get our bishop to do it next year - though I'm afraid that by then my current boots will have given up the ghost.