I realise my blog reflections are falling behind – I am reflecting on what is happening and wondering a lot, but I seem to be low on energy as it comes towards the end of the day to actually start to get things down in written form so that I can reflect further.
Yesterday was an amazing day at the cathedral. In the afternoon I ‘led’ the Medway Primary Schools Carol service – well one of them as there are 4 this week! The experience was a great joy because the excitement and wonder on the faces of the children was simply amazing as they gazed around this massive space (which we take for granted) in which they were expected to speak and sing. I hope I was able to welcome and put parents and visitors at ease – my few mistakes, such as forgetting to pray (what a poor priest I am!!!) all seemed to help relax the atmosphere a little. The service had a great feel to it and people seemed comfortable and I felt excited by this as many of those present would not normally visit a church let alone a cathedral. People felt included and welcome which I consider to be very important.
In the evening I was part of the World Aids Day service which was again a massive privilege and a very very moving experience. During the playing of certain pieces of music and lighting of candles in memory of those who had died or were bereaved due to HIV/AIDS it was hard to keep back the tears and at one point I failed, or maybe it was a success (?), as I was reminded of a lost friend.
The service was very much about people being welcome in the cathedral. For lots of reasons many who were there that evening, whether that be due to their sexuality or their state of health or whatever, do not normally feel welcome in church. As I reflect on the service I think my tears were not just for my lost friend, but were also just as much for my fellow brother and sisters who were sitting ‘uncomfortably’ in the chairs because of experiencing an unwelcome attitude in church. As I write, the thought of people rejected by Christians and/or because of their sexuality brings tears of sadness and anger to my eyes.
I just wish people could open their eyes. Last night I spoke with a couple. These 2 men shared how they were there to remember friends who had died from AIDS. As we chatted the love these two guys had for each other was amazingly obvious. It was obvious in their look and treatment of each other and I remember wishing that people who find this difficult to comprehend could just be there and see this clearly for themselves.
The love was real, the love was beautiful and this love had Christ at the centre – how can this be viewed as so wrong by some people?
As I drove away from the cathedral that night I became excited again – my experience had been one of welcoming in those that usually feel very excluded and on the outside.
My prayer is that the warmth of Christ that they experienced that day will draw them back to God, somehow, someway and somehow.