Lent and Easter Personal Reflection
I began this blog on Holy Saturday – -the Carn Brea Cross empty on the hillside – stark white fibreglass against the rocks and the heather reflecting the empty wooden cross of two millennia past. It is amazing how many people you see making their way up to it and around it and how many people ask about it and complain if it does not go up!
Lent this year has been a difficult trudge with a chesty cough lingering through the weeks, the sort of thing, that always leads me to a state of morose melancholy. The latter, seems a good excuse for munching biscuits and eating extra helpings of pudding on at the basis that, if I feel miserable, I deserve physical comforts to make up for it! It of course ignores the fact that it is lent and that I should be persevering and focusing on things spiritual.
Then of course I feel more miserable when I realise I have put on half a stone and feel fat and unfit – if not actually ill.
I think the lowest point mood-wise was probably after a ministry team meeting discussing the Easter Sunday gospel which is surprising since it was the essence of the good news but there is no accounting for man-flu moodiness!
Tuesday afternoon was rescued by a quite entertaining committee meeting about Bishop Philpott’s library. Alan Bashforth and Roger Bush on top form lending humour to an otherwise unremarkable, if important agenda. There will be more news on the library in the future with details of access.
On Maundy Thursday I went to the Chrism mass at the cathedral where I had been asked to read the second lesson which I was delighted and very privileged to do. The Old Testament reader, Dr Michael Todd, is a worship leader amongst his many other jobs. I didn’t robe, which was fine by me although Michael and I did feel a little out of place surrounded by all those white albs in our little corner by the pillar.
It was lovely that there was a bit in the service where those in lay ministry could reaffirm their promises – but it did cross my mind that it would have been even ‘nicer’ if the ranks of robed readers had also been there to make their re-commitment alongside Bishops and other clergy. I know we have the Readers’ service in October but there is surely a growing feeling about the need to bring ministry closer together. There is a tricky balance here about wanting to be closer to the clergy in terms of ministry and distinctive from Worship Leaders and Pastoral Ministers without upsetting someone!
Thursday evening was my favourite and possibly the only social event I enjoy at St Andrews in the whole year- the Annual Seder Meal – with lamb stew, crumble, fellowship, worship and foot (or hand) washing. Over the years we have done it in a variety of ways from the highly traditional to this rather more fellowship-based affair. The occasion is one where one feels very close to the disciples at the Last Supper. The stripping of the altar and the watch followed and with a puff of my inhaler I got through the dramatic gospel reading and long psalm before the quiet of the watch.
Good Friday began with an early walk around the mine stacks to see if I thought I might be sound of wind enough to get up Carn Brea to assist with the erecting the Carn Brea Cross with my Baptist friends but a about of coughing and aching hips consigned me to the shorter and far less strenuous Walk of Witness in the town instead. One small girl and her mother passed us, “what are they doing Mummy – what’s that?” Her mum glanced round; “Oh I don’t know!” she said and hurried on tugging her child away.
In the afternoon my wife’s ladies singing group at church, Dhiworth an Gollon (From the Heart) led the meditation with songs and readings. I was one of the three chaps volunteered to stand supporting the large cross in the middle of the circle which was quite poignant. The service was wonderfully thought-provoking as always. Fr Simon Cade when he was rector used to say that it was the one service in the year when he felt ministered unto – certainly it outlined just how a group of lay folks can put together really meaningful worship and challenge us all without having to give a sermon…. In fact there was no sermon slot at all. Rev Margaret one of our PTO priests took a few of us afterwards for a short service in which we consumed the last of the reserved sacrament. “Lord I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed.”
Easter Sunday was Ok….. I decided on a day of new beginnings – I would feel better! Did it work? Well time will tell.
Bank Holiday Monday- wrote an horrendous things to do list and began by making a service sheet for Beacon Methodists next Sunday – the resurrection appearances and Thomas – now there is somebody with whom I empathise. (Sorry Martin- than word again!)
The End (ish)
In the meantime the quest to find a new Spiritual Director continues……