Saturday, January 07, 2006

Only on Sunday?

So, yesterday was the Feast of the Epiphany and, as a good catholic parish,we celebrated with a Festival Eucharist last night...Choir. Procession. Incense. The Works.
The only thing lacking was about two-thirds of the regular Sunday congregation...who will doubtless complain voluably tomorrow that they've missed out on a good festival, and haven't got to sing "As with gladness men of old". It's a real dilemma, whether to celebrate the feasts on the right date (which, of course, we do without debate in the case of Ash Wednesday or Ascension Day), knowing that it will simply not occurr to many people that they could even consider appearing,- or to compromise with the calendar (in the face of the parish's claims to be "Traditional Catholic") and suit the majority. Then, of course, we would miss out on the feast of the Baptism of Christ we seem to be doomed whatever happens. What with all the Fresh Expressions emphasis on worship outside the traditional Sunday format, it feels odd to be part of a church some of whose members cling to the "only on Sunday" routine...while liking the idea that their clergy celebrate the Eucharist regularly during the week. I really don't know what I would do, were I the vicar. It was a good experience, actually, leading worship in that church without the usual healthy numbers...We had 55 there, but they only filled the central pews (rather nice, worry about people lost without trace behind pillars) so the church looked kind of empty as we processed about the place (yup, copes to the fore again!) and I felt a kind of prophetic chill. Our main Sunday congregation is on the elderly side, and unless we embrace God's vision and really concentrate on mission, there simply won't be a church here in the village in 20 years time. That might not matter, if the people of Charlton Kings are enabled to encounter God in other ways and other places,- but as someone who believes in the mixed economy of inherited and fresh expressions of church, I'd hope the inherited model could also survive to serve future generations. Hmmn....not quite sure where that's going, but thinking aloud is like that!
There was, actually, a really good feel to the service last night. Perhaps those who came were specially focussed on worship, or maybe it was just a rosy glow engendered by one of the loveliest feasts of the year, and the promise of a glass of something warming and the last communal mince pies of this Christmas tide.


Tony said...

I've always thought that's one of the things that doesn't add up about modern thinking about church and worship: on the one hand, transferring the Feast to the nearest Sunday; on the other, arranging for worship outside the traditional times.

On the whole I conclude it doesn't matter what we do, people will claim they want something different. What was it Jesus said? "These people have grown hard of heart, their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes, so that they may not see, hear, understand etc."

see-through faith said...

more mince pies? !!

Could I -please -come an be a practicant for a season please. erm Advent to Ephiphany would suit very well thanks :)

Polly said...

Hi Catherine, Su here

I don't think you should worry, the people that were supposed to be there were there, and I am sure they appreciated the service even if it was inwardly. I think as a 'catholic' church we should do as many festivals as possible. I'm not sure why we don't, in the church formally, celebrate the Jewish festivals especially Passover, Purim and Hanukkah. Advent, Christmas and Epiphany is a beautiful time in the church. Light coming into the world.It's rich in celebrations, festivals, meditations, quietness, and explosions of colours. So I think your church were lucky to have a festival for Epiphany