Hot on the heels of Saturday’s priestly ordinations come the First Masses…The church is flooded with a tide of grace as the new priests preside at the Eucharist for the first time, and as always it was a huge joy to be present at 2 celebrations this week.Even the fact that they were “back to back” on Tuesday evening, involving a frantic drive across Gloucester City, cursing every red light (of which there were several), did not diminish the pleasure.
2 very different celebrations – the first in the Cathedral, for Michael…whose journey over the past year has been full of wonderful surprises (if a friendly onlooker is entitled to reflect like that). It’s so hard to remember that he only arrived in the diocese 12 months ago. The missional community he is developing was just a vision then, and M had little experience in the finer points of Anglican liturgy. Now the community is a reality, with too many members to be comfortable in M’s living room, and his presidency on Monday was just right . Even though his friends knew that the Cathedral, with all the splendour of a choral Mass and coped clergy was not his natural metier, that he would have preferred a simple celebration with friends around a table, he bore the needful authority with grace while not intruding himself on the process in any way. Very impressive!
His final hymn, Be thou my Vision, was just being sung as the Processional when we hurried up the path to St Katharine’s, Matson…which produced a rather strange “time warp” effect for a moment or two.
A’s First Mass was absolutely a celebration of her ministry in that community. I love that church and its people .It’s beautiful, small (stating the obvious in comparison with the Cathedral!) and unpretentious. It’s also the parish of my much-loved friend the Canon…and her people have a gift for welcoming strangers and making them at home.
A has spent 2 years living in the parish (her husband is one year her senior in ministry, so they arrived when he was made Deacon in 2005 and of course she has spent her own diaconal year ministering there) where she loves and is much loved.That love so shone through on Tuesday as she presided over a packed church with gentle dignity.
When the headlines inspire gloom over the Anglican Communion…when the minutae of parish life threaten to divert us from our fundamental calling….when we trip over our own failings and insist on picking up the same sins which we’ve just managed to deposit at the foot of the cross…celebrations like this are a real gift to the Church. Thanks be to God!