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.
December 26, 2010 § Leave a comment
There was a piece in the Church Times this week saying that most churches were going to do a full programme of services today, the day after Christmas Day.
Well we didn’t. One service at 10.30, to which any members of our five churches could come. And 49 of us did, and it was lovely. We worshipped in the Quire, and as the rest went to the South Transept for coffee, I came back and took this.
I know that belief is about much more than aesthetics and emotion and sentiment, but somehow Christmas became absolutely real when a small number (the ‘hard core’) came together on the First Sunday of Christmas and worshipped together.
Hard not to believe in God when this is the view you have when leading worship. And hard not to believe in God when your curate has preached an excellent sermon, and the Body of Christ has done its stuff.
December 25, 2010 § Leave a comment
After the longing and anticipation of Advent, a celebration of the 12 Days of Christmas. A photo for each day – I hope!
Routh is a scattering of houses and farms – perhaps 100 people in total. A fifth of those were in church for our Christmas Communion. The Vicar of Beverley Minster has been the Priest in Charge of Routh since the 1960s. I’m pleased! To have this view as I parked the car in a snowy field and Julia and I went to church was a brilliant Christmas moment.
My sermons today have been about “wonder”. Not hard to do that when creation is being kind like this.