Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday savoured

I woke up, very grateful to be feeling better, and more refreshed by a night's sleep. I felt I could face preaching the Three Hours with little apprehension, knowing for sure that the cold was on the wane. The catarrh following I can cope with.

About forty people came for the first hour, thirty for the second and around forty five for the third. Chris Seaton came and joined me to narrate the Passion and do the intercessions during the Liturgy of the Passion during the Last hour. His last activity as a student on placement with us. I've much appreciated his company during this Lent.

This year around a third of the congregation came up to venerate the cross, only a tiny handful last year. No great increase in devotion I suspect - this year I think I succeeded in issuing clearer instructions at the end of the sermon, making a properly informed choice possible.

Afterwards Philip our organist produced toasted buttered hot cross buns up in the tea-room, and the handful who had organised the whole affair and seen people in and out quietly while I preached and prayed, stood around, drank tea, and enjoyed a quiet moment of pleasure eating together before setting off home through cold windy streets.

This year, I'm home alone for the Easter weekend. No conflict of interests for me this year between the effort of a domestic (chocolate filled) Easter celebration, and living out Christ's story. A retreat for me, in fact. Just to be able to potter around, prepare a meal, to focus on getting myself ready for Sunday in tranquility, without distraction, is special. I enjoyed preaching today. It was had work, in the same way that a long run can be, but rewarding.

With my own particularly large portfolio of doubts about what we've made of Christianity in this era of 'modernity' (aka materialism), preaching the passion thoroughly, with all the preparation I can muster, confirms me more strongly in the essentials. If only I could be as patient as Christ is about the state of the church!

I was influenced by Franciscan missioners in my college days, and the longing to be a radical evangelist persists in me. I feel fortunate to be at St John's, just because the church, as well as its regular faithful congregation, gets visited continually by a large slice of the general public, watching, listening, taking in the messages conveyed by the place and its ministry, even if they don't appear to join in. It's so vital that what they receive is a sense of relevant good news.

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