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.