Theology is talk about God. This means the Labyrinth is theological, because it has plenty to say about God. Creation, the Trinity, the Incarnation, relationships, journey, redemption, transcendence and immanence, encountering God, being transformed - these are some of the themes incorporated into the meditations. There is nothing unorthodox or surprising here. But rather than explaining these themes in a rational and didactic way, the language used and the whole labyrinth experience are full of imagination, artistic endeavour, images, symbols and metaphors that are evocative of the Holy, but retain some sense of mystery, that God cannot be fully explained. This type of language resonates with many of the spiritual seekers in our times who will willingly linger with the different dimensions to religious awareness afforded by things like candles, icons, silence, Gregorian chants and hints of mysticism.
The labyrinth is a fusion of the ancient and the (post)modern, of prayer, contemplation, encounter and self-discovery. It is a symbolic journey towards an encounter with God. We walk the labyrinth trusting that on our journey we will be challenged and changed. As we make ourselves vulnerable we trust our gentle and loving Lord [Is. 42:3] that we will be empowered and refreshed.
The alternative worship groups who have contributed to the Labyrinth are part of a growing number in the UK who are trying to develop new ways of worshipping that connect more effectively with the growing numbers of people disaffected by church. At the same time we are trying to be real and honest to our own backgrounds - many of us have been raised in traditional churches but for a variety of reasons tend to feel alienated (particularly culturally) from mainstream Church. We have both maintained our links with mainstream churches and retained a traditional biblical theology, whilst at the same time trying to renew a sense of creative artistic development and cultural interaction in the way we worship, reflecting our interest in contemporary music and art.
Each particular group tends to have a variety of theological influences, but perhaps the key theologians who have affected our thinking and consequently the content of the labyrinth are Mike Riddell, Pete Ward and Professor Colin Gunton.
There are two underlying themes to the Labyrinth: journey and relationship. As well as this there are three themes that link specifically with the three sections of the Labyrinth:
The inward journey - 'letting go' or shedding
The middle of the labyrinth - 'centering'
The outward journey - 'incarnation'