yrieithydd: (Visitation)
My mum and I were on holiday last week and, as is our wont, we visited a number of churches, mainly around Rutland Water where we were staying, but also one the way too and fro. Mostly they were open; sadly, the one exception was in Ledbury. I say sadly because my granny used to be a church watcher there to help keep it open. Hopefully that tradition continues in the summer months at least, but it wasn't in play on a Saturday in January.

Two churches, however, stood out because of the contrasting ways they dealt with the presence of a famous grave: Leicester Cathedral and Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon.

For Leicester, this is a new opportunity after the discovery of Richard III's body in a car park on the site of the old Grey Friars Friary in 2012 and its re-internment in Leicester Cathedral in March 2015. For Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon, it has been 400 years since William Shakespeare was buried there.

I was worried about how the new tomb for Leicester - in the chancel - would work but they have managed it well, turning the former High Altar into a chapel and making the Nave altar the main one, moving the stalls to the West End, under the organ. We were welcomed at the door and given a guide to the church and a gift aid envelope if we wished to make a donation, but that was clearly voluntary. There were a number of boards around the church exploring aspects of Richard's life and faith and giving a contemporary perspective on the life of the cathedral and posing questions for us to consider about faith in today's world. In one place there was a facsimile of Richard's Book of Hours and also a contemporary Book of Hours with artwork from local schoolchildren relating to various Bible stories. Priority was given to worship, with the Cathedral being closed to visitors for the lunchtime Eucharist; this was publicized over the PA just prior to service, with an invitation to stay for the service which was well attended. On the hour, the chaplain asked us to pause and led us in prayer. There were knowledgeable guides both at the tomb and by the display cabinet for the pall which was over the coffin at the service where he was re-interred. It would have easily been possible to charge for entry to the old Chancel where the grave is but that was had not been done. There is also a Visitors' Centre which gives the story of the rediscovery. We did not visit this partly because I never worked out where it was - it could have been signed more clearly at the south door - "Now visit the Visitors' Centre [location/directions]". Instead we had a nice lunch in the White Rose Café and bought books from the Christian Resource Centre.

Our visit to Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon was very disappointing in contrast. The closest they came to interpretation was a sign in the West End area which welcomed Pokémon Go players and ended with a welcome whether you were seeking Pokémon, Shakespeare or Jesus. There was a charge of £3 to see Shakespeare's grave and this was imposed at entrance to the choir stalls which were to the West of the Central Crossing, so someone wanting to visit as a church was limited to seeing the nave. There was take-round guide as far as I could see. It is possible that there was more interpretation east of the divide but we were so unimpressed with the welcome that we decided against paying to see the rest of the church/Shakespeare's grave. There was also going to be a reading from the AV at 2:30pm. I was impressed by the helpful answer given by the person in the shop when asked by another visitor about the time of the Sunday service as she gave a very full answer explaining how it was a teaching Eucharist and where it happened. It did appear that they celebrate at the High Altar but then come forward to stations for the administration. It struck me how far away the High Altar is, with the choir stalls west of the central crossing, rather in the tradition place east of it in the chancel. I'm no fan of Nave altars, especially if you can see the High Altar behind, but I think a case could easily be made there for turning the Chancel/Sanctuary into a separate area (and charging visitors to see Shakespeare's grave if you must) and having an altar either in the crossing or just in front of the choir stalls (making it into a celebration in the round). A lot more could have been made of interpretation, perhaps with an exploration of faith in some of the plays - for example Measure for Measure - or a consideration of the question "Was Shakespeare a Catholic?".

We made a donation at Leicester Cathedral, but not in Stratford.

The one thing which would have improved the visit to Leicester would have been better signing. It was a bit patchy on the way; telling us to follow "town centre" for the cultural quarter and Richard III then later having a sign for "town centre" straight on and "cultural quarter" to the left and no mention of Richard. We went right and round the innner ring road, failing to make use of a flyover because it was poorly signed and found a car park. This wasn't as bad as our experience in Nottingham last year which involved the same roundabout 3 times, but could have been better. Leaving though was another matter. We came out of the car park in a different place and the first sign mentioned the M69 and M1 and assorted local places which meant nothing so we chose a direction which turned out be west when we wanted east. We then made our way back and did at least one loop. Eventually we passed the railway station which I have used on my previous visits to Leicester and which I could relate to the roundabout where we'd joined the inner ring road that morning. That, however, is an issue for the City Council not the Cathedral. Stratford being smaller was not quite as bad although we did drive around a bit before finding a car park, partly because ones were signed at big junctions but then were not obvious when you got to them.

So many thanks to the team at Leicester for their work in caring for Richard's legacy and interpreting the Christian Faith for today.
yrieithydd: (Visitation)

I love Corpus Christi and over the last few years in Cardiff and Bristol I've struggled to find places which keep it as well as LSM did in Cambridge on the historic date of the Thursday after Easter. For example last year at All Saints', Clifton only the Sanctuary party processed and only around church. So this year as I had two days off (my weekend) and I hadn't been to Cambridge for over 6 months I decided the best plan was a trip to Cambridge. This was only my second trip back since LSM got a new vicar and my first since he started changing things last Advent.


They've changed it; it's wrong? )

The Shack

Dec. 26th, 2008 03:52 pm
While doing my Christmas shopping I spotted The Shack and succumbed to temptation and bought it. I'd heard interesting things about it and so wanted to read it for myself.

I started it on Christmas Eve and finished today. It's good. I wanted to blog about it though being perverse the suggestion one does this at the end nearly made me change my mind.

It's basically theodicy but has a wonderful depiction of God. At one point the trinitarian theology was a bit dodgy, but Trinitarian theology is notoriously dodgy.

I've got lots of post it index tabs in bits I might go back to.

I will also consider this review from a ConEvo stand point which warns of the dangers of the misleading theology of the book. I've not read it yet, but I will.
yrieithydd: (Visitation)
Well due to the organist being away our MC had to play the organ. I'd found one other server (newish to the congo LEM but hadn't served with us before) and then at the crib service we acquired another (a teenager from the other church in the parish) which gave us two acolytes and me as Thurifer cum MC.

Quick walk through before Mass, and the acolytes did well for their first time at that church. The only thing I'd fault the teenager for was the white trainers and the other just failed to go to the middle a couple of times. Pity about the MC/Thurifer. It started badly -- by the time we'd had the run through it was nearly 25 past which didn't give me much time to light the coals and meant I didn't manage to find the Aspersorium and put it by the crib. The after ringing the bell to start us off I realised I hadn't put my cotta on, so the entrance procession was Thurifer in cassock, acolytes in cassock and cotta, deacon in alb and stole and priest in alb stole and cope. We stopped for prayers at the crib (without holy water) and then up to the altar and managed to do the swap to chasuble (which is awkward when there's a lapel mike involved) and I dashed out to the sacristy and put the thurible down and my cotta on. Went out after the psalm and lit another coal and went out in the second verse of the hymn got to Father (via the second pew as there were people in the front pew and the tree in the way) and went to pass her the incense to find I'd completely failed to pick it up! I muttered 'just bless it anyway' and we carried on. Mum had to cense the gospel book with a non-smoking thurible -- I'd be told to keep it down in the congregation but that was definitely taking it too far. Mum also forgot to pick up the handheld radio mike but she projected well enough (hopefully no-one was relying on the loop -- especially as the battery was going in the lapel mike too). Biggest problem at the offertory was that Father's book got left on her lectern at the head of the nave, so the deacon had to go and retrieve it, which meant I went to the chancel step to cense the congo having said if we'd run out of hymn (4 verses of Hark, the Herald Angels) I'd do it from the sanctuary step.

EP and distribution went fine. I topped up the incense after the Sanctus/Benedictus which helped. We overconsecrated but about 10 of the 45 person congregation didn't receive* which explains that! Communion and Final hymns went well, priest and deacon attempting the descant for 'Sing choirs' then I led us out with a couple of 360s which is always fun.

But despite the mistakes it was a wonderful service and a good start to Christmas.

Long though -- we got there about 10:45 and didn't leave until 1:15 am.

It was nice just turning up at the other church this morning and having to do nothing -- except point out (I think for the second year running) that 586 is Save us, O Lord a version of the Nunc antiphon from Compline and maybe it should be 588 See amid the winter's snow.** Good sermon from Father -- focussing on God coming as a baby and thus dependent on us. She had a line about 'babies crying and laughing now all around the world' to which she appended 'and in St Michael's' as there were two rather loud toddlers at the front which made a distraction into a feature.

Then home to help cook the lunch (all three of us involved) which was rather nice (though the parsnip wasn't brilliant.

*This is possibly a good thing in that it means we got some none regular churchgoers along I suspect.

**I noticed later that it could also have been 589 See him lying on a bed of straw but the churchwarden checked the list before changing the number.
yrieithydd: (Visitation)
I've been thinking about the tensions that can arise between the pastoral and the prophetic. The pastoral focusses on caring for people in the world as it is, while the prophetic speaks about how the world is not how it should be. Last night, the issue that brought this up was war. Pacifism is prophetic -- war should not be. Army chaplains are pastoral -- war exists and armies exists and people are in them and have spiritual needs. Some Christians emphasise the prophetic and speak out for peace and campaign against nuclear weapons -- such as those protesting at Faslane at the moment. Others, happier with the idea of a Just War, emphasise the pastoral and work within the system as it is. It seems to me that we need both, but too often one side or the other thinks the other is letting the side down.

I think there is an element of this split in the discussions about sexuality. To the liberals, care for people is most important. There are people who feel attracted to their own gender and why should they be penalised for something they cannot help. If a loving committed relationship with someone helps them live out their faith what's the problem? To the conservative, the prophetic is important. Christianity has a distinctive sexual ethics -- it's not just about sleeping with whoever you happen to be attracted to today -- and any change to the traditional teaching is a threat to that. Neither seems to listen to the other.

How do you promote the ideal (a lifelong committed relationship) while acknowledging that people are fallible and don't live up to that? Too often, it seems to me the church has become the `pure club' and those who don't make the grade are kept out. But that's how the pharisees worked while Jesus was alongside the tax-collectors and sinners.

TBH, I think the church needs to stop focussing on the negative (no sex before marriage etc) and focus on the positive -- the value and the joy of a committed relationship, which is about more than sex.


Jan. 7th, 2007 05:08 pm
yrieithydd: (Cross)
I decided I needed to indulge my Methodist tendencies this morning and went to Cathays Methodist Church".* On the whole it was a good service. Stephen coped with the issue of children's address (which isn't part of the liturgy) and Epiphany by having a hymn, reading (Matthew 2), talk, hymn, children left, Covenant liturgy. He lost points by only having the prophecy reading and the Gospel, omitting the Law and Epistles and the responses and by telling us to sit for the Eucharistic prayer. He did however use the right words which gets him lot of points.

There is a structure to the readings which develops the idea of Covenant through the scriptures, so I don't understand why people drop them. There is a note at the start which says it is to be used in full. The Law reading is 8 verses and the Epistle only 2 so it does not even save much time.

People were very friendly. The minister greeted me as I arrived (I do know him from other sources) but also spoke to another newcomer in the row behind me. He was greeted by more people than I was, but that was good because I was looking at the hymns and the service to prepare myself so I did not want to be talked to. It was good that that was respected.

*I like the Cardiff Circuit website because it gives the plan so I could find out when all the Covenant Services were. My usual haunt is Llandaf North (I'm a regular -- I've been once a year for the last three) but they were having next week when I'll be away. So I went for Cathays.
yrieithydd: (Cross)
I had a PM on the ship today asking permission to use something I'd posted on the Liturgy of Unrest Thread which now resides in Limbo. I vaguely remembered the piece though I'd forgotten I'd posted it there. Re-reading it I wanted to alter the punctuation slightly.

God, Creator of all that is,
You cannot be pinned down
Defined, caged in, summed up;
We might try,
in theology or religion,
To say 'God is x or y';
'He belongs to us';
But you ARE;
Beyond our exclusiveness,
Our cliques, our firm boundaries
Always leading us on,
Pillar of fire or cloud,
The wind blowing where it wills,
A butterfly calling us onwards,
Fluttering just out of our grasp.

And yet,
On the cross, you were pinned down
Or rather up.
Nailed there, left to die,
Dead and buried.
Out of sight.

Or so we thought;
But, Unpinnabledown God,
You could not be contained
in that cage of death;
Burst from the tomb;
Rose Again!

I'm not quite sure of its copywrite position. I'm fairly sure it predates the ship's claim to (part?) copywrite of what we post there and I don't think it was made retro-active. But my permission at least is required for it to be re-used.
yrieithydd: (Cross)
I was slightly surprised to find us singing Come ye faithful raise the anthem as the offertory hymn this evening because I associated it with cheerful occasion, not quite Eastertide but nearly (partly I think because of Come ye faithful raise the strain. However, I had forgotten until we got to the relevant verse (4?) that is was definitely unsuitable. I've not had a good Lent A-words wise. It started badly with Lasst uns Effreuen on St David's Day, then St Mark's had A-words, (in a hymn where each verse ended H---------! what a saviour) sand Lorraine (who should know better) had Seek ye first and St Paul's had something on Mothering Sunday. But I definitely don't expect it of LSM. At least it was only saying that we'd be using that word in heaven and the reason for the hymn was it was about time in the way in which the preacher had been talking!


Feb. 3rd, 2006 03:20 pm
yrieithydd: (Cross)
Auricular confession raises Protestant hackles as soon as it's mentioned. `Christ is the only Mediator; we do not need to go through a priest to be forgiven', they say. And yes, that's all true, but it completely misses the point. It's not about having to go through a priest to be forgiven, but a gift from God, a Sacrament, for our benefit. We don't have to go through a priest to be forgiven, and indeed that is not quite what is happening. We are confessing first to God, then to our Lady and the Saints and then to the priest. It's almost as though the priest is eavesdropping on what we are saying to God. Then he's there to offer advice and insight and the pronounce the absolution (the power to do which was given by Christ). The trouble with confessing one's sins to God secretly is that it is so hard to get them into proportion and one can be tempted to be unclear and unspecific `because God knows already'. With sacramental confession, the priest can put things into proportion and one has to be specific because he doesn't. Actually, the person who needs to be specific is the penitent, it is she who needs to acknowledge the specifics of what has happened, or how can she `truly repent'?

God gives us the sacraments and who are we to despise his gifts? We are human beings, enfleshed spirits who know each other and ourselves only in relation to one another. God does not save us from these things, but through them in the sacraments.

This brings me on to an aspect of sacramental confession that I had not really considered until someone talked about it at the CUC Discussion Group about the Salvation Army* and pointed out that as well as rightness with God, there is also reconciliation between the penitent and the Church and that the Church is represented in the priest.

Yes, the sacraments can be abused and treated mechanically, but that doesn't stop them being wonderful gifts.

*This basically became a discussion of sacramentality and how vital (or not) it was in Christianity.
yrieithydd: (Cross)
A reminder about the Christians in Unity in Cambridge Service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this evening at 7:30pm in Clare College Chapel with the Bishop of Peterborough as the preacher.
yrieithydd: (Cross)
As my previous post indicated, I went to the Goth Eucharist last night.

The TV cameras and journalists taking photos were mildly distracting (especially when they appeared to be attempting to film candles and when the cameraman sat on the altar step just was we were about to go up to receive communion) but on the whole I managed to ignore them. I was as much distracted from worship by wanting to watch and judge this event.

I admit that I went along out of curiosity. I am not a Goth. TBH, I'd never come across Goths until I came to Cambridge and do not know that much about the sub-culture. But, given the conversation we had over dinner after Mass on All Saints' Day, I wanted to see for myself what it was like and I do have a number of friends who define as Goth. This was really my first opportunity to go as for the last three terms I've had something on on the same alternate Tuesdays but that's on the other set this term!

I wasn't that sure what to expect. I got there at 8:30 and we hung around and chatted and I nearly didn't recognise [livejournal.com profile] meirion in the half dark. After a bit, we sat down and started looking through the liturgy. I observed that the Eucharistic Prayer, though not an authorised CofE one had the words of institution and an epiclesis of sorts which reassured me on the point of validity.

Although the theme of the service was given as Miracles, the sermon did not discuss the idea of miracles and whether they were possible but took us through the raising of Lazarus and related it to our lives: being called out by Jesus from darkness and imprisonment; the role of the bystanders in freeing his bonds; the fact that Jesus made clear that Resurrection was not just some nice abstract idea that they'd learnt about in Sunday School (Sabbath school surely!) but was embodied in him and could happen how.

The text used at the invitation to Communion which was described as `after Teresa of Avila' was powerful. It had resonances with the Methodist Covenant prayer. It certainly was not a happy-clappy service and acknowledged the darkness many of us experience. The use of the beginning of the Prologue to St John's Gospel at the lighting of the Paschal candle worked, with its statement that the darkness has not overcome death and psalm 139 is my favourite psalm (although my inner pedant was amused by having several verse of it as the `opening sentence'!). I did wonder why there were 5 candles around* the paschal candle when only four were lit in the course of the service (and there were 6 spaces in the candlestand).

I'm still not sure though how to answer Fr Andrew's concern about it creating a ghetto. Where is the balance between reaching out to people in terms that they will understand and drawing them into the wider body of Christ in which there is no Jew, no Greek, no Barbarian, no Goth etc?

*That's what it said in the opening blurb but they were in front of it really)
yrieithydd: (Cross)
Yesterday, I read the following exchange on a a thread about bringing back the prayer book Angloid wrote:
1662 (Communion, I'm not discussing M or EP) is not 'traditional liturgy' but a bit of reformation propaganda masquerading as liturgy.

to which Callan responded:
Presumably the Tridentine Mass is Counter-Reformation propaganda masquerading as liturgy, the liturgy of St John Chysostom is Byzantine propaganda masquerading as liturgy and Common Worship is middle class English pelagian propaganda masquerading as liturgy?

and followed the link [livejournal.com profile] curig had posted to the Churches together in Britain and Ireland material for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and in the evening attended the the Goth Eucharist. As I lay awake trying to sleep these things prompted some thoughts about liturgy and propaganda and why I dislike much modern liturgical stuff.

There is a sense in which liturgy is propaganda; liturgy forms what we believe, lex orandi, lex credendi, and so the aim of liturgists is to set out right doctrine in the liturgy. However, I still felt that Callan's response was unfair and that there was a sense in which the BCP 1662 Communion service was far more propagandist than his other examples.* With the BCP, you have a big change of structure from the tradition and it is that which makes it more like propaganda. It is not a gradual development to that structure and a process of refining but it is a deliberate break with what had gone before and an attempt to inculcate a particular set of Reformation beliefs.

This led me on to reflecting why it was that I dislike many modern services (such as the CTBI material) but found that I did not have a bad reaction to the Goth Eucharist. It comes go to the obviousness of the agenda. So much of the modern stuff has a fluffy modern agenda and it is obvious. I felt that the Goth Eucharist avoided that, well an obvious agenda -- I doubt it would be fluffy! -- although it was aimed at a particular sub-culture. It drew on previous liturgies and on the concerns of the sub-culture and did not feel too forced.

*Oh, and I'm not sure why CW is described as pelagian!


Jan. 12th, 2006 12:37 pm
yrieithydd: (Cross)
You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.


Chalcedon compliant




























Are you a heretic?
created with QuizFarm.com

I'm fully Chalcedonian, but I appear to be semi-pelagian!

Not sure where the monophysitism comes from though. I possibly disagreed less strongly with those questions.
yrieithydd: (Visitation)
Those who remember my rant a year ago* might be pleased to know that I do not feel the need to rant about this year's Advent Carols.

The order )
Yes, it got Christmassy, but I think it was a reasonable compromise of the competing expectations for the service. It's a pity we didn't have Lo he Comes as it makes a great climax to the service. I remember in my first year we had a similar compromise and finished with that which works well I think, because it leaves us looking to the second coming having meditated on the first. But I'm not too sad, because we had it this morning!

footnotes (again!) )

Fig Trees

Nov. 22nd, 2005 01:41 pm
yrieithydd: (Visitation)
For [livejournal.com profile] atreic

I've just noticed a thread about the cursing of the fig-tree I was particularly interested in Ken's comments about the length of time that figs take to mature and thus the fact that even out of season it is possible to see whether there would be figs.
yrieithydd: (Cross)
[livejournal.com profile] cartesiandaemon and I appear to be having TGGD in comments on other people's journals. This seems unfair the owners of those journals, especially [livejournal.com profile] the_alchemist as her post was about vegetarian food in India, but to an extent to [livejournal.com profile] mr_ricarno even though it is rather more relevant to his post on a debate on the place of faith in national life, so I thought I'd bring the comments and response together on my own journal!

The Story so far )
yrieithydd: (Cross)
Sunday night at Robinson, Tuesday at LSM )

Tonight we have All Souls' with the wonderful black High Mass set. In the light of last night's discussion, [livejournal.com profile] emperor suggested that he should advertise it to the Goth community.

footnotes! )
yrieithydd: (Cross)
I drafted this post on the train going down to London for the memorial service for Br Roger, in the week after the 13th Sunday after Trinity. I then typed some of it up, but never posted it. I think for now I'll leave the question hanging at the end, but there should be a follow on. The thing that amused me was just after I wrote this, I was working back through my journal entries and came across this post from the 13th Sunday after Trinity last year! I suppose it means I'm consistent!

Anglo-Catholic Mission )
Imagine someone gives you a piano for Christmas. Do you leave it in corner looking pretty (and being a useful surface to dump stuff on) or do you sit down at it regularly and practise and even have some lessons from someone who knows more about playing the piano than you do?

I suspect the giver would be far happier with you doing the second. After all, one imagines they gave you the piano because they wanted you to become a better piano player. I don't think either that they would think that your practise only counted if you were doing it because you were grateful for their gift, rather than because you felt that you had a duty to make use of the gift. They might prefer the former, but the latter, especially if it gets you through a phase where you're feeling `there's no point practising because I'm not getting any better and scales & exercises are dull and what's the point of them anyway?' Giving up in those times and not practising is not likely to make you any better, whereas if you persevere one day, it will hopefully all click into place and you find that those blasted scales & exercises have paid off and now you can actually play some interesting music quite well.

It strikes me that discipline in prayer is similar to discipline in piano practise. Yes, we are saved by God's grace; he gives us that gift -- to be like Christ. But having received it, we can't just leave it in the corner (either looking pretty or being a useful surface!) but need to sit down and work at it. Making time to pray and be with God in order to be better at being like Christ. It might be useful to visit someone who's been at this game longer than us to visit regularly to help us see what we're doing right and what's still not quite right as a pianist would go to a teacher. And there will be times when it feels just as though we're doing it out of duty, but as C.S. Lewis says, those trough times an actually be more fruitful than the peaks even though we cannot see it at the time. Actually that ties in with what the person quoted by a Westcott ordinand last night said that it's only after praying the office for 7 years that you start benefitting. I do not entirely agree. I think that over the past 3 years I have benefitted from saying the office, but I can certainly imagine that in a few more years there'll be even greater benefits. It's a long term solution not a quick fix.

Background )



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