Monday, 19 November 2007

Saint Hilda's Day High Mass.

This Sunday, we kept an evening High Mass for Saint Hilda's Day. The celebrant was the Rt. Rev. John Gaisford, former Bishop of Beverley, who gave us a fine sermon. We wore our best High Mass set, had ten tall candles on the altar and all the reliquaries, a full Church and a very, very fine choir all plucked from our congregation who had been rehearsed by Anthony our regular organist and Tim, our new member who is the ex-organist of All Saints Margaret Street. Tim also helped Anthony out, playing some of the pieces and we are very grateful to both of them as always. However, this is not the St Hildas website, but my personal blog, so I shall stop mentioning such things from now on. In the morning, I went to Holy Trinity Blackley which is a few miles to the East from me, it is another Forward In Faith Church which to my shame I have never attended. There was a fine Sung Mass but, to be honest, much as I enjoyed it, the highlight was seeing some Chicken Of The Woods mushrooms growing up a tree in the grounds, which is a rare fungus having a taste and texture of Chicken!
Occasionally, as we go through our lives, we question the fundamentals. Sometimes we have a moment of epiphany. I had one recently when I was talking with some friends about the allegory of the Good Shepherd. To my surprise, I found myself saying something which I had not hitherto considered, namely that the Good Shepherd teaches us to abandon the flock, to go in search of the one wanderer, the one free thinker and that it is maybe an allegory of our faith that we should go in search of the few truly great souls that, once converted, will themselves bring hundreds to the faith. The 99 will be safe and maybe need a wee bit of toughening up anyhow, to remind them that the sheepfold is as much about their dedication as it is the shepherds devotion. Maybe this is the flaw in our wing of the Church, that we do not take risks and that we would be afraid of change. I look at the websites of new evangelical Churches springing up in this town and see pictures of hundreds of earnest, smiling young people praising God and building new Churches when we are consolidating ours. I am coming round to the belief that we have much to learn from this, that we need to be the Good Shepherd and go out of the safety of the sheep pen and search for the great souls and if the people in the pen wander and grumble and do not take some form of initiative of their own then, well, maybe they could do with feeling the breath of the wolves on the back of their legs now and again.
This is one of the reasons I have not been adding to this site recently. I know there are some 400 of you who read this every day and I am wondering (as well as wondering why so few of you comment but there we are), what impression this blog gives of my Church? It was intended to be an online diary but I refuse to believe that there are so many people interested in my day to day activities, so you must be reading for some other reason. So tell me, why do you read this? Does it need to change? What do you want to see? Or do you like it the way it is? I get incredibly frustated with Churches which watch people going month by month and say 'well, if they don't like it, let them go, this is the Faith undiluted'. Excuse my French but that is Balderdash. With a capital B. What we present today is often a Victorian or 1960's representation of divine truth, which we seem to have been afraid to move on since then. We are standing still and watching people drift off, to other churches. Saint Paul, I think , never stood still, standing still is a privilege of the monied and comfortable.
What are we becoming and where are we going? Answers on a postcard please.