Sunday, June 25, 2006

Travelling gratefully

This weekend, the 2 St M's Youth Groups have a collective birthday. Regular readers will know that I see our young people as quite definitely something to celebrate, so we've been partying with a vengeance! After a chaotic skittles evening in the local pub, the younger kids went home and the older group settled down (or do I mean hyped up) for a sleep-over in the Parish Centre, to prepare for this morning's Birthday Eucharist. We had a ready-made theme in pilgrimage, as members of the group will join National Youth Pilgrimage to Walsingham in August. Sadly, the complexities of family diaries mean I won't be going with them (and even if I could, I'd have to somehow leave my priesthood at home, as Walsingham is a shrine where the ordination of women has emphatically not been welcomed with joy). We planned, created, and generally had a splendid time working out our theme,- though when I headed for home at 1.30 we were still a banner short of a procession, and a birthday cake short of a picnic. I did worry slightly, since we'd made much of the banner (which will go to the Shrine) in our order of service...but I should have known that those kids won't let little things like sleep stand in their way. When I returned at breakfast time, the banner was complete, the cake being iced and the emotional temperature pretty sunny really.
Of course I had the statutory panic....we were under-rehearsed, potentially chaotic, and St M's does tend to like its worship just so. I spent a wee while before the service doing as much PR work as I could, but in the event I needn't have worried. The service positively overflowed with joy and excitement,- I caught the most surprising people joining in with the trees of the field that clapped their hands, as we went out with joy!
Afterwards in the vestry I thanked the MC of the day for his relaxed attitude to a service in which anything could happen, - and generally did. His reaction? "I'm a jazz musician....I believe in creative improvisation".
Dear Lord, please could that attitude could spread among your people here? It would be such a refreshing gift.
Meanwhile, back to Koinonia. I am so very proud of those kids (yes, even the ones who periodically visit this blog! Hi girls! ;-) ) and this morning they really shone! For a while the group has divided itself neatly between those who are very much part of church life (choristers, bell ringers etc, who've all been confirmed and are thoroughly at home on the premises) and a group (whom I tend to think of as the Footballing Fringe) whose only contact with church is via the youth groups. As usual last night, I delivered my pre-Communion pep-talk, speaking about the welcome available at the altar, asking the kids to think seriously about whether they wanted to receive Communion or a blessing, and reminding them that this was a holy meal, to be treated with reverence and love. I knew that in the past one or two members had found the Eucharist confusing and even embarassing, so I stressed that there would be no problem whatever their decision, that they were loved and valued equally in any case.
This morning, every one of the "Footballing Fringe" opened their hands for Communion, and each of them responded to the Gift I offered not with the traditional "Amen" but with sort of "Thank you", which I could only echo in my heart. I didn't cry,- but it was a very close thing!

Happy Birthday, dear Youth Groups, happy birthday to you!
Keep on shining.


Songbird said...

What a beautiful moment you describe at Communion. God bless you and the work you are doing, Kathryn. I can't wait to see St. M's in person!

see-through faith said...

beautiful, awesome and they surely marched out with joy in their hearts - not only on their lips. Methinks that they are so blessed to have you as their pastor (and vice versa!)

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for all your help on our service and night of lovely.

Mr Giraffe

Mark said...

This is church - this is church - this is what it's all about (and "thank you" is way better than Amen isn't it?) Thanks again, K, for sharing the good news of what God's doing where you are.

Mary Beth said...

This is a delight! they are so fortunate to have you. And I say PAH on Walsingham and their attitude. Just FYI! :)

Mr Giraffe's Best Friend said...

Et moi? Where do I fit? I've not been confirmed like the other people. I don't go to church regularly. It still feels a tiny bit strange to be in there, to be honest... but getting better.

But, it matters not, for we have a GIRAFFE who is full of LOVE and HAPPINESS (even though you wouldn't include it properly in the prayers *grrr* :P)

Kathryn said...

Mr G's Best Friend...let's have a proper conversation about this sometime soon. Church IS a Very Strange Place alot of the time (trust me, I'm a curate ;-) ) and too much of what happens there can get in the way of people actually meeting God...but you DO belong, are every bit as much part of the family as anyone else...and make hugely welcome contributions. Now I'm sounding like a school report. Yuck. And the giraffe did get his very own personal blessing, didn't he? But if I'd just included him in the prayers without any explanation, his appearance there would have been as baffling and peculiar for some of the congregation as some of the rest of the stuff can be for visitors.
Let's talk VERY soon...

mr giraffe's best friend said...

Hoorah, you are wonderful! Will you be coming to Koinonia on Sunday?
My mum read the post, and she said the bit about the boys at the end made her cry, in a nice way :)

Kathryn said...

Mr G's BF....This conversation would be better by email, I suspect. Try curate at stmarysck dot org dot uk
(keep meaning to get your email from J, but only think about it when he's not available)...then we can really get the bit between our teeth.
But yes, I will be there on Sunday, though maybe pretty bedraggled as it's rather a mad day for church stuff.
But have PLANS for the autumn, which you may enjoy. Do email me. x