Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A partial picture

This afternoon I conducted for the Tuesday Group a special Advent service of reflection on the Great 'O' antiphons and the scriptures behind them - the images and poetry of hope in the coming of the Messiah. Taken from the riches of the ancient Divine Office, and woven into our Advent hymnody by Victorian divines with a deep cultural awareness of tradition, this material is part of what gets lost as common public memory of bible and hymnody weakens and fades. Tuesday Group members are of a generation brought up familiar with the Bible in a way that was already beginning to weaken when I was young. It would be good to find a way to deliver the same material to a much younger audience.

This evening was taken up with the annual Kidney Wales Foundation celebration of Christmas, This year we had a full house because the much media exposed choir 'Only Men Aloud' were taking part. And not only these fine guys, but also CF1, another local mixed choir with a fabulous way of doing spirituals and Gospel songs that really rocks the roof, and a thirty strong Welsh Primary School choir who not only sang well but were beautifully behaved and disciplined in a way that did nothing to inhibit their enthusiasm. It was otherwise very much a traditional lessons and carols event, with hymns and readings taken at a brisk pace, rather too brisk for me, but clearly to the satisfaction of everyone else present.

It's good that people are still willing to take part and hear the stories connected with Christ's birth read publicly, but inevitably the rich diet of scriptural material is reduced to seven or eight much repeated substantial narratives. The way things are nowadays, the story told is divorced from its foundations in Christian scriptural teaching. So it's no wonder that opinion poll surveys reveal a level of ignorance and imcomprehension about the deeper meaning of the message. What we do is better than nothing, but not really good enough.

Roy and Lynne, recently back from their first visit to Jerusalem presented me with a finely embroidered white Jerusalem stole. I shall wear it for the first time at the two December weddings I have coming up. Roy and Lynne were married two years ago at St John's on December 1st, and celebrated their second anniversary with a blessing in St George's Jerusalem - a place full of special memories for me. Even more so now that I have digitised all my photos from visits there in 1998 and 2000.

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