Tuesday, 28 October 2008

A La Recherche du Temps Perdu.

I found this old picture from the Second Annual Anglican Wander two years ago, in the Saxon barn chapel at Stydd. The sun shone as we all walked over the fields towards the chapel in a joyful rabble of all type and manner of humanity, joined by faith and the promise of a good day out. The (brought in, electric) organ was playing as we reached the Chapel, the Mass was quite beautiful and simple, as you would expect from us and for those who did not shed a tear as the Angelus was sung at the end for the first time in over six hundred years miraculously bringing people in from the fields to pray, then there was a tear left for the singing of Jerusalem as we processed out. We went to a local town for lunch, old friends who had not seen each other for forty years swapped stories and the day finished, much later, with Evensong, sitting in the chancel of an ancient church where just one or two may have rested their eyelids under the dappled light of the stained glass and the dulcet tones of the King James Version.

Seems a world away, doesn't it? The faith lived gently in a land of plenty in a time of peace, before credit crunches, untested economic policies, synods and GAFCONs. We may have memory of those days in the next couple of years, I imagine. All Saints this Sunday will, for us, be the beginning of a serious look at the faith delivered by those Saints, at different ways of evangelisation employed by them, which your scribe will be working into the prayer groups and the Stations of the Cross in Lent. We will begin this theme in earnest the week after our veneration of the Saints and our relics of them during the Remembrance Sunday Mass and that theme will stay with us as we make the prayer that we may do as the Israelites in Numbers did and 'rise up early in the morning and go to the mountain of God and confess that we have sinned' on Easter Sunday at dawn, praying that the dawn which breaks will be one of hope for the people of God. We will make reparation for the sins of those who seek to destroy the Church and offer that to God, that He may give us life again. We can never return to the past and nor should we want to, God moves the earth on and gave us the ability to discover more and more about ourselves and the planet, but we hope to sow a seed of the fortitude of the Saints in Heaton Park. Our photograph of the Pope, when he came to visit our Parish, reminds us that we walk in a place of great faith, albeit the next crowd puller in Heaton Park will be the band Oasis, who have sold a hundred and fifty thousand tickets for their two concerts next year. Another weekend when it will be impossible to get anywhere for traffic.

I suppose what I am trying to say in my usual roundabout way is 'don't be too worried. God is with us'. Things may change, but God is always there. Martyrs have walked to their deaths more joyfully than we are facing each day now! My fear is that we will fragment, each taking a slightly different tack to his neighbour and we will end as a archipelago, rather than as a landmass. God help us if that happens.