Yesterday saw an incredibly mixed day that is becoming the norm in the life of a pioneer curate based in a cathedral.
Yesterday was our patronal festival in the cathedral. For those of you that don’t know this means we celebrate the life of our patron saint which happens to be St. Mary the Virgin. So yesterday’s eucharist service was big and long. New choristers and staff members were resented and accepted on the cathedral foundation. It was also a Kings Sunday which means the scholars from Kings school attend. The service was packed with people, very traditional and we finished at 12.15 which is unusual for the well timed cathedral.
The service was good. God was connecting with people and peopled were being changed in some wat through that encounter.
As it was the 10th anniversary of 9/11 we designed a symbolic installation which gives people opportunity to leave comments and reflect. Over the weekend I have found myself in conversation with people who have found this opportunity helpful and painful. We ended our patronal festival yesterday gathered around this memorial and placed the altar candles there.
The afternoon it was a complete change for me as the gathering gathered in the crypt to look at dance as a topic and ask the question ‘what is performance and what is worship’. I think this turned out to be one of the most engaging and fun gatherings we have had for a while.
In John’s gospel when asked about worship Jesus says, ‘God is Spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth’. We talked about this and thought there was something here about partaking, about integrity and about engagement and transformation. We came to an agreement that it’s easy to say that soem styles of worship are performance (e.g. dance, choir, bands), but that these are performance only if we let them be. If we engage with God , even if that engagement is through observation, then it ceases to be a spectator sport and becomes worship.
It was a good time together and we left each other with the challenge of how we ensure that God is the centre of our worship, particularly as we agreed that worship is a lifestyle rather than an activity.
So … a fairly mixed Sunday but one that serves as a good illustration for our worship discussion at the gathering. Yesterday I experienced many different ways of engaging with God through different services, conversations and activities … I had a personal preference and enjoyed some more than others .. but I also strongly believe that all were as valid as the others …. it’s great we have such a big God who designed lots of different people …. if there was only one way to worship imagine how monochromatially boring that would be!