Thursday, 1 November 2007

Colours of (the) day.

The High Altar at St Hildas this evening.

The sacrament house in the glow of the candles.

The Churchyard at St Marys.
West tower and a monument from the Great Exhibition at St Marys.
And the Church Inn, by St Marys where we will be going afterwards!

This morning, I put all the relics out on the Lady Chapel altar for Low Mass and read the same readings that I read last Sunday at Darwen. Afterwards I put all the relics away and put the black lectern fall and pall out by the High altar and moved the Paschal candle and the six black candlesticks out for a Funeral of a beloved local man who has passed away. He would have been surprised to hear that his friends and family took up every single chair in the church and there were more standing at the back. Afterwards, I put all the black things away and put a gold lectern fall out and put the relics back on the altar along with the big six and four extra candles for the Solemn Mass this evening. I also decorated the Lady chapel for tomorrows All Souls Mass and before I leave tonight, I will leave the main altar ready for Green Mass on Sunday and put everything back where it belongs. I have also written tomorrows sermon for High Mass at St Mary's, our neighbouring parish, which I print below. Above are some pictures of that most photogenic Church where, incidentally, Coronation Street (a soap opera which is shown on the Television, whatever one of those is, I am told), films all it's services. I will post this weekend with some pictures of tomorrows Mass. Some of you might want to look at the lovely vestments, some of you will remark, I dare say, on the altar cards and wonder if I have taught everyone Latin all of a sudden, but they are English altar cards, for the English Missal rite of Mass, so there. Have a happy All Saints Day and I will pray for you all. Thank you to those of you who have privately sent me names to read out at the All Souls Mass tomorrow. There is still time for more to be sent in if you wish. Please note, though, that any I recieve after 6pm tomorrow (English Time) will be too late for that Mass. I am touched by your kindness.

Here is a copy of my sermon for tomorrow, for those who are interested.

We shall all be changed, in the twinkling of an eye.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

This is one of the most beautiful feast days, at the most beautiful time of the year, at the most sacred time of day. Think about it, the Mass is the centre of life, the unchanging core around which all human life revolves, coming to and going away from, almighty God. We celebrate this Mass slowly and carefully here, in this ancient Chancel, at the time of day when Jesus himself went out to heal, bless and restore his followers and those who were not His friends, all that time ago. This is the time when our Christian year draws to a close and when nature prepares herself for the great fast, when animals and plants go into hibernation and when our hearts begin to warm when we hear those timeless words ‘do not be afraid, listen, today I bring you news of great joy, a saviour has been born to you, and this shall be the sign’. Oh, thank God for Anglican chancels and beak-nosed Deans with half moon spectacles and choir schools!

This time of year is a time to look back, to take stock before Advent and the first thing to take stock of is our faith in the risen and ascended Lord, Jesus Christ who takes away the sins of the world, who calls us forth and points us to the East, to the resurrection. It is he who reminds us that we are not, like most of the world, running away from death, frantically trying to backpedal with more and more lotions and potions to make ourselves look younger which, well, which do not work. We are, instead, walking towards life. I mentioned that the Mass is the core of the world, the core of all creation. It is the rock to which we are moored and the source of all grace and it is what the King of the world was viciously murdered for. That cross is all the more visible, today, on All Souls day. We all have crosses to carry, nails to bear, pain to hold. But we all are walking to new life, we are joyfully carrying our crosses to Christ, for we are the Easter people and Alleluia is our song, as it was to those who saw Christ by the lakeside, at the end of the world, when all seemed lost, grilling fish and showing His blessed wounds. There is more than hope. There is certainty. There is the end of life, the change to eternal life.

Not only is the Mass the centre of our lives, this saving action is the distillation of divine truth. We stand, all of us, before Gods heavenly table, facing the rising sun, facing East, to the New Jerusalem. This ancient posture shows our collegiality, our devotion to Christ as one body. I know some of you will not have seen Mass said this way before, but that is a blink in history, a modern change. It is absolutely right that we should face the same way and offer our sacrifice to the East, to the coming of Christ. When we are buried, we face East, so that when the second coming happens, we may all see Christ coming and fall on our knees to praise him. Me and Fr Bryan won’t, though, we get buried facing West, so we can make sure you are all behaving yourselves and minister to you as Christ walks among us. Ancient comforts for an ancient God and an ancient covenant. Look at a map of this country, and you will see that we face east, as the churches face east, so the houses built around them reflect that as well. We are not turning our back to you, we are expressing our common prayer and common direction, which is facing God together and offering Him sacrifices of Prayer and praise.

So this day, as we pray for all our loved ones in purgatory and in heaven, we join in with them in the closest way we can. When you kneel for the Eucharistic prayer, join your hearts with your departed friends and family. Say ‘I know that you can see this with me, for we are united in Christ, truly present here on this altar’. Hold out your hand and God will comfort you. One day, those for whom you pray will hold it for you and say ‘welcome home’ when we are all changed, in the twinkling of an eye. ‘Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who came into this world’.

Blessed be God and blessed be His most holy Name, for he has visited His people and redeemed them. We are saved by the blood of the Lamb and the sacrifice we make together this evening and every time we come together as God’s people. Do not be afraid, have faith, know that you will come home one day and then you will see things as they truly are. We have been called by name and we belong to God. Let us pray that we may be worthy of that calling. Amen.