john davies
notes from a small curate

updated regularly
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Liverpool Gateways walk

    Notes from a pilgrimage around Chinatown
    Liverpool, 10 June 2007


    Lewis Mumford, The City in History:

    The origins of the city... ...
    Three things which influenced the creation of very first human settlements:
    Practical needs of families / tribes, in a collecting and hunting economy;
    The impulse to create ceremonial burial places for their dead;
    The need to create shrines (first shrines were in caves) where the gods could be worshipped and appealed to.

    "Note that two of the three original aspects of temporary settlement have to do with sacred things, not just with physical survival: they relate to a more valuable and meaningful kind of life, with a consciousness that embraces past and future, apprehending the primal mystery of sexual generation and the ultimate mystery of death.
    As the city takes form, much more will be added: but these central concerns abide as the very reason for the city's existence, inseperable from the economic substance that makes it possible." [Mumford, p.9]

    Is it possible to find God in the city, however or whoever you perceive God to be?

    Mumford is suggesting that cities have the spiritual impulse deeply imbedded in their being, and that provokes me to suggest to you that if we walk carefully, with open eyes and hearts, we will find signs of God in the city and God will meet us there.

    So our walk is a pilgrimage of sorts - not a walk to a final great holy place (that's another sort of pilgrimage), but a walk where every step of the way we are conscious of God walking with us, or turning up in unexpected places, as we go. We're looking for God, we're open to God, we're expecting to find God, in teh fabric and in the human interaction we'll encounter on these streets.

    One hour - four 'gateways'
    That idea came from the Chinese Arch - which we won't visit tonight, though we'll see and hear about...
    The city is full of gateways - our lives are full of gateways...


    THEME: Departing
    ... as we depart on every journey, even the most mundane (trip to shops, commute to work): with anticipation, anxiety, hopes, fears....

    REFLECTION: a Celtic leaving prayer to help focus on travellers' protection / blessing the journey / looking outwards:

    Bless to me, O God,
    Each thing mine eye sees;
    Bless to me, O God,
    Each sound mine ear hears;
    Bless to me, O God,
    Each odour that goes to my nostrils;
    Bless to me, O God,
    Each taste that goes to my lips;
    Each note that goes to my song;
    Each ray that guides my way;
    Each thing that I pursue;
    Each lure that tempts my will;
    The zeal that seeks my living soul,
    The three that seek my heart,
    The zeal that seeks my living soul,
    The three that seek my heart.


    (Give out cards and labels)

    Think of one thing you would like to leave behind you.

    Think of one thing you would like to take with you to help you on your journey (on paper, in your head - nothing physically irreplaceable! - a prayer, a text)

    Think of one thing you would like to take with you which you'd like to leave somewhere else en-route to share with someone else.

    (Two minutes)

    Back Percy Street - back gates (what secrets do they hold?)

    The Packing Cases (think of your departures and arrivals and those which have influence the life of this city)


    : The church and the civic arena


    Biblical texts re temple courts as key nodes of public / civic engagement...

    God's house - 'The Lord has chosen Zion ; he has desired it for his habitation' (Psalm 132.13)
    Place of prayer for all peoples (Isaiah 56.7)
    Its presence / its restoration - a sign of the hope of the people (Ezekiel 40)

    Bishop Chevasse addressing Council Chamber 17 June 1901:

    Might I be allowed to remind you briefly why the Cathedral is needed? First, it will be a visible witness for God in the midst of the great city ... Secondly, a Cathderal is needed for diocesan and popular services ... Thirdly, we need a Cathedral which will express and deepen the spiritual longings and aspirations of many among us.

    Reflect on the church-city interface in Liverpool:
    - how the city embraces the church;
    - how the church embraces the city...

    ACTION: 'Embrace the city' (like Elizabeth Frink's Jesus does - or perhaps more generously - like Arthur Dooley's on Methodist Centre Princes Drive or Our Lady and St Nicholas, Pier Head?)

    Follow below Cathedral, left onto Great George Street, cross to THE HOUSE of RED doors ...

    In my Father's house are many rooms ....
    Death (of flats) - rebirth (through art)
    Think of those who once used these doors....

    Cut through to Great George Square:


    : Gateway to city life


    - on the comings and goings of city life, the various ways people use and relate to the city: play - leisure - commerce - worship - access to other places (the river etc

    "From the last stair at the top of the hillside you would watch as the river flows into the ocean. If you want to see for a thousand miles you have to climb one step higher"

    - on the multi-cultural aspects of our city (Chinese Arch talk: Les and Di)


    Somerset Maughan (in The Razor's Edge)

    'For men and women are not only themselves. They are the region in which they were born, the city apartment in which they learned to walk, the games they played as children, the old wives tale they overheard, the food they ate, the schools they attended, the sports they followed, the poems they read, and the God they believed in.'

    "I feel the city inside me.
    I see the city when I open my eyes,
    I hear the city when it rumbles, when it sighs.
    I smell the city all the days and the nights."

    "Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." (Jeremiah 29)

    ACTION: A prayer ribbon, your prayer for the health of its people, tied to the fence of the Health Centre

    Past St Michael's... Kent Street ...


    : Protection / exclusion


    Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
    in the city of our God.
    His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation,
    is the joy of all the earth,
    Mount Zion, in the far north,
    the city of the great King.
    Within its citadels God
    has shown himself a sure defence. [Psalm 48.1-3]

    City walls and gateways - vulnerable points needing extra protection:

    But protection for whom? From whom or what?

    Who or what provides real security ('gatekeepers'of the city - CCTV operatives or ...?)

    Walk about Zion, go all around it,
    count its towers,
    consider well its ramparts;
    go through its citadels,
    that you may tell the next generation
    that this is God,
    our God for ever and ever.
    He will be our guide for ever. [Psalm 48.12-14]

    ACTION: A Celtic 'circling' prayer for the protection and blessing and inclusion of all.

    Circle us, Lord.
    Keep peace within, keep harm without.
    Circle us, Lord.
    Keep love within, keep hate without.

    to follow