January 5, 2011 § 1 Comment
I’ll get lyrical tomorrow in church about the amazing inclusion by God of followers of another religion who had upped sticks, going on an educated guess, and being welcomed to worship the true King of Israel. And about the immediate revelation of Good News to the Gentiles.
Epiphany is great. A real shame that it’s swept up into post Christmas tiredness, new year busyness and back to work depression. Free the Magi!
January 4, 2011 § 2 Comments
January 3, 2011 § 2 Comments
The BBC did us proud on Songs of Praise last night. The filming was so long ago that I’d forgotten just how much we were taken over by the demands of television. It wasn’t just for the week of filming, nor for the large number of planning meetings about practicalities and logistics. Songs of Praise especially do a shed load of research – one person spent a week in Beverley just collecting stories.
A local journalist rang me this morning to ask why the programme had been so good (she’d loved it so much she watched it twice). It certainly captured both the beauty of the Minster and the life of the congregation (apart from the performers everyone who was interviewed is a regular part of our life here). Perhaps it was because the programme’s makers had spent such a long time in Beverley getting to know us. They had certainly been received warmly, and it might just be that the warmth they received made its way into the programme they made.
When someone is with you for a while, you can’t keep an act up. They get to see you as you are. Both Songs of Praise and the Antiques Roadshow enjoyed being with us, and found a quality here which they reflected in their programmes. There’s no way you can instantly generate such an atmosphere of hospitality, welcome and love out of nothing. You inherit it, and then do all in your power to keep it growing. That’s certainly what I’ve found here over these last 18 months. And it it’s not there to start with, you get there is small stages I guess.
So, a photo of the Minster, taken this afternoon as the sun was setting. It’s from a distance and close up, if you get my drift. Overview and detail. My mission for January…
January 2, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I must have read it many times before, but have no record of ever preaching on it. Colossians 1: 1-14 (set for the 2nd Service in today’s lectionary) was our chosen reading for All Age Worship this morning.
It’s fascinating – one of Paul’s amazing prayers for fledgling Christians and the fledgling church. The underlying theme is ‘bearing fruit’ – the Gospel has taken root in their lives. Now, he says, you have the power either to stifle that growth, or let the Word grow and develop among you, to do who knows what. His prayer is that they might have knowledge, power, strength, patience and joy.
So we prayed this morning that we would bear fruit this year. The fruit of prayer for each other and for our commuunity and world. The fruit of knowing God and experiencing God’s power. People wrote their prayers on fruit, and this tree will now be in our prayer chapel, as a sign of our thankfulness to God for planying his Word in us, and our determination to let that seed grow as well as we can make it.
Here’s to being fruity in 2011.
January 1, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Beverley Minster has a tradition of a cycle ride around our five church buildings, starting and finishing at the Minster. Like all the best traditions it’s, ooh, at least 4 years old. But I wasn’t to know it was so newfangled when I agreed to take part. Anyway, we raise funds for our mission links and for ourselves as the riders get sponsorship.
Great to get going in 2011 with a little exercise. Great to do something new (ish – not ridden the bike for a while). Great to visit each of the buildings in my care. Not so great to consume more calories than I expended – but the hospitality in each church was wonderful, and a vital expression of our being together.
It made me realise that the motor car can insulate us from our surroundings. Perhaps my precedessors, on foot, on horseback, or in a coach or trap at horse speed, will have had much more of a rooted connection with their parish than I do. And it was a reminder that a pilgrimage is about the journey as well as the destination, and that church ministry is perhaps best exemplified in the manner of welcome you get and the expression of hospitality you find.
Well, that was my excuse for eating scones, biscuits and stollen anyway. Would have been rude not to…
Happy New Year.
December 31, 2010 § Leave a Comment
We do a Watch Night Service here – and 200 came last year, so the change of year does have some significance. But tomorrow is just tomorrow, isn’t it?
The end of one year and the beginning of another is, I guess, as good a time as any to stop, reflect, review, give thanks, seek forgiveness and determine what behaviour, what lifestyle, what direction and what choices are most appropriate for the future. What I don’t like is the sense that everything about the old year was bad and everything about 2011 will be wonderful, if only we behave ourselves. We have the chance to change every day. “New every morning is the love…” and all that.
Much of yesterday, and this past year, will have been wonderful. Much of what we have done will be worth repeating. Some things must change, and if the click of a number on the calendar gives the necessary impetus, then well and good. I’m not sure what my big thing for 2011 will be – perhaps the golf handicap down to 15? But there are lots of little things I need to work on. One of them will be to see if I can do that thing I learned about in Spirituality ages ago: to reflect on each day, give thanks for the good, seek forgiveness for the bad and determine to have more of the former than the latter the next day. The Jesuits call it the Examen.
Today’s photo is at Hornsea, this afternoon. After some grey days there was a glimpse of sunshine. May tomorrow, and 2011, be full of warmth, creativity, depth and life – in all its fullness.
December 30, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Today at our regular Thursday Communion we remembered Thomas Becket, who was martyred on Dec 29 1170. Perhaps we ought to make more him here – he was Provost of Beverley in 1154, and did this well enough to be commended to Henry as Chancellor of England soon afterwards. The rest is history; and I rather like the fact that Beverley has its own saint – John, our founder – as well as a saint among its ‘incumbents’.
Canon Terry Munro, who was preaching this morning, took ‘pilgrimage’ as a theme. On this earth we never arrive; we journey in company; and we find places along the way where the hope of our arrival seems much more tangible. Thomas Becket, in any visit he will have made to his Minster, will already have found it a place of pilgrimage: John had been canonised a century before. In reaching this destination, as people were later to journey to Canterbury, we have a foretaste of our arrival in our heavenly home.
Beverley Minster is a pilgrim place, and we encapsulate this it in the Retroquire. Here is to be found a remarkable installation. Two figures, fragmented people on the way to wholeness, strain towards a window, in which a zig zag path leads to blinding yet welcoming light. In each figure is a heart made of the same glass as the window. As pilgrims we journey towards that which we already know.
The installation (which comprises other pieces as well) is the work of Helen Whittaker, of Keith Barley Studios in Dunnington, York. I’m thrilled at the courage of the Friends of Beverley Minster, and the PCC, in commissioning the initial idea and going with its final outworking. Helen’s rationale for the work is here - along with some other photos which show the effect of the morning sun on the pilgrim figures.
Pilgrimage can sometimes be overdone as a picture of the Christian life. The Retroquire makes the whole thing a source of challenge, hope and wonder.
December 29, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Foggy day today. Though the liturgical calendar says we should be rejoicing like mad between Dec 25 and Jan 6, the secular one does all that by Dec 25, and then moves into a different kind of rejoicing. At best (for me) it’s a mellow gathering of friends, a gentle eating of good food and a slower pace of life.
As a career liturgist I should be full of religious cheer this week. But as a career parish priest, I got to lunchtime on Dec 26 and needed to do a bit of ‘secular’ rejoicing. Actually, there’s a word that needs reclaiming – ‘profane’. It derives from that activity which took place around, but not inside the ‘fanum’, the temple. It’s activity which is defined by its relationship with the religious. Well…these last two days have been profane: rest, relaxation and enjoyment given as a gift after the hard work of rejoicing.
Sometimes fog descends like a welcome duvet. Tomorrow (with three bits of ‘work’), the sacred will poke its head from underneath and I’ll proclaim the joy of the incarnation once again. Perhaps the gentle fog will lift to enable a longer view.
December 28, 2010 § 1 Comment
We’ve been doing our bit to keep the bird population going through the frozen spell – even melting the ice in the bird bath. (Note: the tip about putting a ball in to stop it freezing over doesn’t work for ours…)
Goldfinches love Niger seeds, and we’ve enjoyed watching them feast away through the autumn. But there was no sign of a single goldfinch from the moment it started snowing. Until today, when the thaw brought out at least three of them. Where’ve they been for three weeks?
My small theological thought was that church life can be like that. You can put out all the tastiest morsels, but is takes things beyond our control to make growth happen. Here’s praying for the goldfinches to come flocking.
December 27, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Beverley Minster has had this set of crib figures for a few years now. They were made by pupils from Beverley High School. The Crib Service consists of children going on a journey to find the figures in different parts of the Minster, and bringing them back to the crib. We had 700 people in two services – and children come year after year in the hope that they will get to carry one of the figures.
This is one of the Shepherds – and I like the look on his face. There were many wonders surrounding the birth of Christ. One was the message to the shepherds – and the fact that they responded. I described them in a recent sermon as the ‘hoodies’ of the ancient world – on the edge and a bit suspect. This shepherd has seen a bit of life – but here he is, with his lamb. All are welcome, if they have ears to hear the message of the angels.