This is a year of events in Preston. Every 20 years the city is overtaken by a series of ceremonies, celebrations, activities and exploits. It’s known as the Preston Guild and dates back more than 800 years.
One event that’s already taken place was a visit by an art installation known as the Global Rainbow. The installation comprised a set of lasers in the colours of the rainbow beamed across the sky. They were set up at the marina and shone from there over the centre of the city and out of the other side towards Blackburn, where it was still visible.
In many ways it’s quite a simple idea for an installation but like all good art the Global Rainbow engaged everyone in a collective experience.
We went down to the marina a couple of evenings and it was great to see a place that is normally a bit quiet buzzing with all sorts of people. There were families just taking it in. There were people with cameras of all sorts of sizes, sophistication and costs. There were people who were in on what it was all about. There were others who were baffled by the whole thing. We spoke to one couple who lived down there and hadn’t a clue what was going on. There were people intent on knowing how it worked and others who marvelled at the spectacle.
The event was talked about in the local paper and on the TV news. Nearly everyone I met that weekend wanted to know whether we’d been to visit. It was certainly to topic of conversation for a few days.
We were bound together as a community by our communal participation and immersion.
The Bible is full of all sorts of collective experiences. One of them stand out as memorable because of it’s eternal symbolism, but also because we continue to remember the events through a simple and regular act of worship. It was a collective experience that was so significant it was retold in each of the four gospels and bound the disciples together. As a ceremony it continues to bind communities together.
When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, "You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It’s the last one I’ll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God."
Taking the cup, he blessed it, then said, "Take this and pass it among you. As for me, I’ll not drink wine again until the kingdom of God arrives."
Taking bread, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, given for you. Eat it in my memory."
He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.