Was a question that Anne included in her sermon at the Cathedral yesterday.
"Far too much to keep track of", would be one possible answer tonight, - for today included an incredible range of events and emotions.
I began the day with a lovely quiet celebration for 32 assorted 8.00ers, a gentle and affirming congregation who are one of my greatest joys at St M’s.I would never have imagined myself becoming an 8.00 enthusiast, but I think it’s a reaction to the prevalent anxiety which accrues around any service involving quantities of servers and even greater quantities of congregational expectations. 8.00 is just God and his people, concentrating on our relationships with each other. Bliss.Can’t think of anything I’d have preferred to do to mark my first anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.
10.00, which was the main celebration of our patronal festival (St M’s stuck to the BCP calendar in choosing their festival, so that we could have a patronal in the height of summer…the new positioning of the Visitation too often coincided with Pentecost…so we keep it on the first weekend of July, come what may), was notable for the number of copes and the quantity of flowers about the place (at least two of which collided with disastrous results for the flowers…but I wasn’t, praise be, wearing the cope concerned!). It was followed by the sort of unhappy conversation that makes you wonder whether actually this whole ordination kick was one of God’s less amusing jokes…One member of our congregation is hurting very very badly, and is currently at the “I’ll never relate to the church again” stage…which is kind of discouraging. Cant say more, but a few generalised prayers would be very very welcome!
Abrupt gear- change after lunch, as we combined patronal celebrations with OpenHouse, and held a teddy bears' picnic in the Vicarage garden. Stunning success. Lots of people from all congregations. Enough children to make me feel that we really are making progress in our long-overdue bridge building. The largest congregation of bears I have ever preached to!
We lived out the parable of the Lost Bear (using my much loved Maxi bear, - who was my mother’s engagement present from my father…he took her in to Harrods and told her she could have anything she wanted in the whole shop…and was rather floored when her request was for a teddy bear), talked about the importance of hugs (for/from bears and from God) and generally reconnected ourselves with some important truths which I heard articulated – was it really only yesterday?
If bears were good, Youth Group was even better. All sorts of wonderful and exciting things are happening there, guaranteed to make heart and soul sing even at the end of a long and complicated day.
So at bedtime I’m back in the same state of thankfulness with which I began this morning. This first year of priesthood has been incredible,-more real than anything else I’ve ever encountered. I’m fastening my seat belt as I launch into the next. What a ride!