I had the opportunity to travel to London on Monday for a day with Peter Leithart, a pastor, author and scholar from the US who spoke on the place of the Sacraments in the life of the church.
I was struck by the high value he placed on unity in the church, on his practical application of the generous welcome of God to the weak, and his passion for these oft neglected gifts of Christ to his church. It was great to learn from one in another tradition alongside Lutherans and Anglicans, Baptists and Presbyterians and others from Newfrontiers and more.
I'd have plenty of questions around his theology - not least that he baptises babies, but Leithart's pastoral heart for his people, his love of the church, his conviction that church has something to say to our world moved me deeply.
I appreciated his attention to the Rites (rituals) of the church and the way that these both engage and challenge our culture and our world. He noted that we all have rites, however formal or informal. The question is what they are, and even more so: what story they tell.
And I loved his passing comment that its not so much that Baptism or The Lord's Supper are means of grace, they are simply grace, gift. Food isn't so much a means of nourishment. Food is nourishment. Bread and wine aren't just a means to get grace - they are grace, they are gift. And in baptism we get God himself, he claims us and names us for himself.
Reminded me of Evan Koons 'All is gift'