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Heading Ever Onward, Back to the Start

This morning’s Pentecost service saw us arrive at the end of three and a bit months of being “in season”. Hinged around the mysteries of Holy Week and Easter, Pentecost mirrors Ash Wednesday – with an anointing with sweet smelling oil instead of the imposition of ashes. We may be returning to dust but, in the meantime, we have work to be getting on with, places to go…

So, out into the wild places we go. For many of us, that will mean family, work, friends and leisure – it may be the same business as usual but hopefully the forty days of preparation and fifty days of celebration, topped off with a Spirit-filled encounter, will have changed us, setting up to go as God wants through this long, green, non-season towards the coming cold winter of Advent…

Distant Stirrings

I’m currently sitting in a church in which a bunch of reflective stations around the Passion Narrative have been set up. The evening is alternating between a chance for the congregation to move between the stations whilst very old plainsong plays and some reflective sung worship.

I’m experiencing a slight, possibly inaccurate, sense of deja vu tinged with regret. I remember being involved with putting together this kind of thing in the past and that it was a worthwhile and valuable thing. But tonight I’m just the caretaker. I’m not a gobby youth, nor a student. I’m no longer involved with any local groups that do this kind of thing..

I want to help people encounter God.

I want to help people worship.

I want to change lives.

Later I will need to think about the hows and the whens.

Tonight, I’m just the caretaker.

Maundy Thursday

The stripping of the altar (and surrounding area) felt particularly brutal this year. I found myself thinking ‘surely not that?’ as yet another not-nailed-down item of furniture, book, candle stand, or altar cloth was carried out past those of us who remained after the main service. When our statue of Mary was manhandled out of her stand and hauled away down the aisle it seemed alike like a personal, physical attack (and this to somebody with mostly protestant tendencies with regards to Our Lady).

When there was nothing left to remove, they turned out the lights, leaving us sitting at the altar of repose – tiny, lit up with lots of candles in coloured glass bowls, daffodils and a monstrance replete with host – a tiny oasis of light and life in the centre of the desolation occurring before us.

I’m now sitting at the high-altar rail, comfortable in the quiet and dark, and feeling welcomed by God, barely noticing one more extinguished candle and looking at the shrouded cross and the open aumbry (safe where the reserved sacrament is usually kept) – door flung wide, with no body inside, in a bleak foreshadowing of Sunday morning.

Doctor Who Christmas Special (spoilers)

Stephen Moffatt should totally move on from Doctor Who. The Christmas Special was a horrible mess, and felt cobbled together out of old scraps of ideas rather than anything that had an ounce of thought put into it. It doesn’t even work very well as a two-parter with The Day of the Doctor – itself a bit of a mess but enjoyable all the same. I never want to feel like I’ve wasted an hour of my life watching Doctor Who. Horrible.

What would I have done differently?
Continue reading Doctor Who Christmas Special (spoilers)

Liturgical Flash Paper

This is for @raquelita_e:

Explain, towards the beginning of a short group service, that “all have sinned”, that “the wages is death”, but that “if we confess our sins, God… will forgive us.”
Hand out pens, and strips of flash paper, asking group to write out something they’d like to confess and give them time to do so.
Whilst the writing is going on, light a votive candle for each member of the group (so the confession remains private).
Hand out the candles, explaining that Jesus is the Light of the World and the darkness hasn’t put out the darkness and that one image in the bible is of God being fire, eradicating sin.
Ask the group to hold the confession strip to the paper and watch the reactions as whatever was on the paper disappears in an orange flash.