Each Sunday evening St Peter’s offers a 7.30pm service running under the title Magdala which aims to be contemplative, creative and companionable, liberal in approach and with an emphasis on inclusion. The formats include a Taizé-style service, Compline with Questions, Creative Compline, Compline with Lectio Divina, Visio Divina and Contemplative Communion. Sources from which these services draw material include Iona, Taizé, Greenbelt and St Martin’s-in-the-Fields HeartEdge network.
Compline is a simple form of evening prayer, traditionally held last thing at night. We use its spare liturgy to provide space for theological reflection – using questions, creativity and the tried and trusted form of meditative bible reading known as Lectio Divina.
Lectio Divina involves a small group reading a bible passage aloud three times. After each reading each member of the group identifies first a word or phrase which resonates with them. Secondly they share in a sentence why the word or phrase resonates with them. Thirdly, quietly, the group reflects on and discusses the various choices made, sharing common and fresh perspectives as they come to mind.
Visio Divina is a development of Lectio Divina. It involves a congregation identifying details in a piece of art - usually a projected painting - and then linking this with a bible passage (which it may have been created to depict). The reflections on the art and bible text together often prove challenging and stimulating.
From time to time Communion is celebrated with a Shared Meal enjoyed in the middle of the liturgy. Given the root of the word ‘companion’ is ‘friendship with bread’, these gatherings are truly companionable!
The services are held in St Peter’s Lady Chapel. Afterwards there is an opportunity to chat to other service attenders over refreshments served at St Peter’s Servery next to its main entrance.
Offers to help with these services – to lead, read, reflect, pray, help with music, refreshments and offer general background help are always welcome. ‘Magdala’ is the name of the group which organises and resources the worship: it is always keen to have new participants and contributors.
In addition to the Sunday evening service Magdala offers a weekly Newsletter, giving attenders invitations to and information on events and initiatives focusing on social justice and faith development. To receive the Newsletter simply contact the Vicar.
Often drawing inspiration from the Greenbelt Festival, Magdala participants are frequently active in social mission: some have recently formed the kernel of a Hidden Voices group to participate in the Clewer Institute’s initiative on Modern Slavery. On the faith development side, encouragement is given to explore Christian community as an inclusive experience – in which diversity is celebrated and everyone’s gifts can be affirmed and enjoyed. St Peter’s offers Faith Seeking Understanding and Faith in Culture groups for those who wish to think through theological issues in the company of others in a Discussion or Book Group. Quiet Days and Retreats are also organised from time to time. The Magdala newsletter offers invitations to all of these.
Attenders of the 7.30 Service are frequently interested in exploring a sense of vocation to work and minister in particular contexts. If this is your situation, come and explore this experience with some fellow travellers. As an Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands, Mark Pilgrim, our Vicar, is experienced in supporting people in their exploration of vocation.