Sunday, April 13, 2008

Good Shepherd Sunday

It was a pleasure to rise early and walk briskly in the cold bright air to St Nicholas Parish Church Kenilworth for the eight o'clock Eucharist this morning. A pleasure to be on the receiving end, to be welcomed, to relax, listen and participate in a modern language service, sufficiently familiar, but also sufficiently different to keep me on the alert. The building is thirteenth century in origin, much done up in Victorian times, and well cared for. To judge from the weekly notice sheet, the parish is a lively and active one. I'm glad my grand-daughter is signed up to start at the Parish Aided School in September.

There was a congregation of about thirty, but it was the only Eucharist of the day. Their main service alternates between Eucharist and a Family service of the Word, so I guess there'll be some who make the effort to go early when there's no later opportunity. The Peace was exchanged in a relaxed and friendly way. I can recall times when eight o'clockers went to eight o'clock to avoid having the give anyone a greeting at that time of day. The Vicar came and greeted me and said "Welcome", noticing a first time visitor tells me that he knew all the other faces present.

Over breakfast I was quizzed about the church. Inevitably having a child in a church school means that parents will need to attend church functions from time to time. Like many of their generation, they are neither hostile nor committed to the church, but disquieted by 'happy clappy' fundamentalism, and enthusiasm verging on sectarian fanaticism. I felt able to reassure them that they'd find a warmth and breadth of welcome in their parish church that would give them enough space to be themselves, and maintain their integrity. That's what any good Parish church should be able to offer.

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