i was so sorry to hear of mike riddell's death this weekend. it was a long time since i had seen him of course as we live on other sides of the world. but he was a gentle, creative, kindred spirit and fellow traveller in exploring faith. he was a writer/poet/liturgist. when alternative worship was happening in the uk mike, mark pierson and steve taylor were exploring similar questions and adventures in new zealand through parallel universe and the like. our worlds collided online through email forums and blogs in the days of dial up!
i was thinking of memories of mike...
he was in the uk doing a few things - i remember getting him to do things for or with CMS, and possibly brainstormers and he visited greenbelt too - in 1997 i think but possibly other times too. he happened to be visiting us one time in ealing when the matrix first came out so we went to see that together with a few others from grace - that must have been 1999! this is pre-blogging days so i can't check the archive to see exactly what we did when!
mike wrote a little book called godzone which i loved - so much so that i bought 50 to give away. it was telling a story of faith and spirituality in very fresh language with stories and parables. the one i remembered that i have retold many times as it is such a great flip at the end is...
God walked into heaven and discovered everyone was there. This didn't seem fair as some of them had done terrible things in life. So everyone was summoned before God where an angel read the ten commandments. When the first commandment was read God said 'Everyone who has broken this commandment will have to leave.' The same happened with each of the other commandments. By the time the angel had finsihed reading the seventh there was hardly anyone left. God looked up and saw a small group of grim self righteous ascetics looking very smug. For a few minutes God considered the prospect of eternity with them and then shouted out 'Alright everyone come back!' The religious group were furious saying 'we have wasted our lives.'
threshold of the future was a wonderful book - the chapter in there on acts 10 captured the paradigm shift in mission as well as anything i have read before or after and the notion of the 'sin of holiness' has stuck with me ever since. i pretty much collected anything mike wrote - a pamphlet of liturgies, the prodigal project, alt spirit, god's homepage, deep stuff, sacred journey, imagining anew - a pdf of reflections he published on facebook in the pandemic.
he wrote some lovely prayers and liturgy. i was trying to find some earlier fairly unsuccessfully but i think this invitation to the table which i found in an old grace communion liturgy is borrowed from mike...
The table of Jesus is your place of gathering
Here you are welcomed, wanted, loved
Here there is a place set for you
So come all you who thirst,
All you who hunger for the bread of life
All you whose souls cry out for healing
Come all you who are weary
All you who are bowed down with worry
All you who ache with the tiredness of living
Come all you poor
All you who are without food or refuge
All you who go hungry in a fat land
Come all you who are lost
All you who search for meaning but cannot find it
All you who have no place of belonging
i remember going to a launch event of the film the insatiable moon which mike wrote and worked with pip piper on...
my world is definitely richer for my path crossing with mike's. so sorry for his departing this life and for family and friends who will miss him so much.