It was encouraging to be part of Messy Church at the Amberley Anglican parish in July, when children and adults gathered to celebrate the Bible story of Zacchaeus—through stories, multimedia, songs, prayers, art, and improvised drama. Encouraging because of the fun, the enthusiasm of children, the quality time for families, and the power of Messy Church to bring different generations and parts of the wider community together for networking and mutual support.
Starting as usual at 4.15pm, it was a ‘buzzing’ evening of hands-on fun based on a Bible theme, culminating in a relaxed shared supper of finger food, including pizzas prepared by the children. It was good to welcome new families trying out Messy Church for the first time. Everyone, old and young, engaged with particular enthusiasm when we left the hall to create an improvised dramatisation of the Zacchaeus story in the church, with the pulpit standing in for the sycamore tree.
Many people remember from childhood days the Bible tale of the wee little man from Jericho, who climbed a tree to see Jesus as he passed by. The unscrupulous and unpopular tax collector was amazed to find himself befriended by Jesus, in fact, find himself hosting Jesus for dinner. Here we see Jesus once again cross socially and religiously-ordained boundaries and share a meal with a person who was regarded by the devout as a lost cause. As a result, the life of Zacchaeus, and those around him, begins to be transformed, to the benefit of everyone concerned.