Oh what an extraordinary day....From the normal reclusive 8.00 congregation, who would really far prefer to worship in their individual private chapels, to the excesses of the 10.00 Dedication Festival, to a gentle Evensong with two dozen souls present, it's been good. I was dreading the 10.00, specially when I was told firmly that "we cope, here, for processions..." (the verb "to cope" in this context refers to the wearing of heavy and ornate ecclesiastical cloaks, rather than to managing in adverse circumstances...though there were moments...)
I was allocated the cope originally presented by the congregation to a much loved vicar who had gone on to be a bishop..best moment of the day was when I said, lightly, that I hoped the Great Man (who casts a long shadow over this parish, even 25 years on) would not be turning in his grave to see a lowly curate, and a woman at that, wearing his cope...and was assured by a rather silent and undemonstrative verger that "he'd be delighted".That felt like a bunch of roses :-) The procession, with the sort of banners I associate with a great AngloCatholic slum parish in the early years of the last century, turned out to be really rather wonderful, because everyone was just so happy. They are proud of their church. They are glad it has stood for 814 years. They wanted to thank God...
Suddenly, all the posturings and anxieties about who did what, in which order, seemed irrelevant (the same verger had described a previous Dedication Festival as like "nothing so much as an ecclesiastical protest march)...These were, and are, God's people and we smiled and celebrated.
After the excitements of the morning, Evensong was very low key...it was a foul night and most people had wisely decided that once was enough for today...however, Zacchaeus went down very well...I talked about different sorts of dedication, how he changed his dedication from his own interests to those of the Kingdom, picked up an idea from Rhys about the fact that he had to stay put as a symbol of transformation in his own community and linked that with the changed landscape that had arisen when the church was built, and our calling to change the landscape of our community by our dedication to God's work in this place. Our Senior Citizen informed me, on her way out, that it was the first sermon she had heard on Zacchaeus in 80 years....so at least she listened enough to hear the topic....Grateful thanks to all of you who gave me starting points....where would I be without my friends?