Monday, 20 April 2009

Easter II.

Low Sunday was not, as you might imagine, very low at Saint Hilda's Prestwich. In days gone by, 'Parson's Fortnight' began on Easter Sunday night and ended the day before Easter III, so this Sunday gone would have been for many in the Church of England, a 'low' Sunday, with lay led Mattins and no Eucharist. Presumably all the clergy went to Herne Bay and caught shrimps, or wandered around the Lake District. Next Sunday we begin Mass half an hour early at 10.30 for the only time in the year, we have no sermon and then we go straight into the AGM after Mass, this, we have found, is the best way to involve as many people as possible in the meeting.

The sun shone on Sunday during Mass and afterwards as I went to the tip with another car full of rubbish and then on to a pub for Sunday lunch of poshed up macaroni cheese, roast pork belly and more cheese. We were left Deaconless at the last minute on Sunday, so we had a sort of hybrid high Mass, which we felt was acceptable for low Sunday, if not something to be repeated without need in the future.

And I am very grateful to Ken in the press enclosure, sorry, choir stalls, for these pictures. Vestment fans may like to know that I was given this high mass set, which includes a cope and all the rest of the bits, by the Lefevbre family of Perpignan in the South of France. A little glimpse of heaven here - and a salutary lesson to anyone who would move the nave altar back, (not here, of course!) that the architecture of Churches is often built around forms such as the altar and font and one looses the light and dynamic of the building as designed by the original architect. Better to demolish the building and build a new one designed around the nave, so that we can properly worship narcissus. Oh dear, there I go again, time to move on to another picture.

Easter is a time of hope, of course. Hope in the certain knowledge of the resurrection - that the great adventure leads to God and that there is that of God in us. We are able to live our lives in Him and to live our lives to the full, we must be in Him and He in us. I have said before to people who want to come close to God and His Church, but find it too legalistic and constricting that it really is not so. There is an element of coming to no accept but to love God's law and plan for us - love one another as I have loved you - love the divine in yourself, love the soul in your body which sometimes seems to be on a windmill, love the God in others and search for Him in His body, the Church. We are all parts of the one body and the one society of grace, this is the true gnosticism, that we are all part of a grand complex and ultimately loving and nurturing whole. The Church, globally, locally and personally, has a duty towards reflecting the unique and God given gifts and lives which we all have and to help us to point our whole being towards God. This is the love of God and of others and it does involve a love of ourselves so that we can recognise the love of God and the divine, the soul, in our own life.

It can seem, if you follow the news, that the Church is obsessed with sexuality and sex, maybe it is, but Thomas teaches us in Sunday's Gospel that God comes to us all, He seeks out the lost, the doubting and shows Himself to us all. We are all children of God and equal in His sight - whatever we may feel our gifts or problems to be, we are equally able to work for the coming of the Kingdom as parts of His body. A body cannot function if the arm is ashamed, or the foot is scared, or an ear is hidden away, not looking as perfect as the other ear. When Christ overturned the tables in the Temple, the next day He came back and healed the sick and blessed the children. This is the pattern of the body of Christ - yes, challenge those who would turn God, grace and salvation into a commodity, but realise the primary example of Christ, which was the call people to Him, heal and bless them - and then pay the ultimate sacrifice to take away our sins. If we live our lives to God, then the worries and the uncertainty fade away, becoming one body and one community of believers.

How to be part of a body in the modern age when individuality is foremost? God is before time and will be after time, but still is in us to such an extent - still gives us potential for grace so strong that we have all got a calling to serve Him, if only we look. I realise that there is always a new thing to do, a new person to gawp at, a new object to want, a new car to buy, yes, of course, I am not advocating living in the hills, if we all lived in the hills then we would only moan about overcrowding there instead - but make choices that look to God. He made a choice which came to glorious, beautiful fruition at Easter, He chose the hard path that we might have life and have it to the full. Use your soul, mind and body, which God has given you, as part of the one body of Christ -by choice and by grace. Love yourself and God and look for Him in others, listen to His word, hear Him calling to you by the lakeside - listen, and your soul shall live.