Church in the Valley, as you might have guessed, is dedicated to St Matthew.
In my book, this means that on St Matthew's day you offer the best worship you can, with as many trimmings as possible - and then throw a bit of a party afterwards.
Strangely, patronal celebrations have been on the back burner in recent years, so it felt quite brave to reinstate them today. Initial enthusiasm from PCC members waned slightly when they realised that the patronal was the week before Harvest Festival, which is the week before the St Francistide Pet service...for one appalled moment I think they realised just what having a vicar with "bright ideas" might mean! However, they are resolutely good sports (L and M, I really can't thank you enough), and though a few people baulked at the later start time (designed to allow us to serve wine at an hour that didn't feel too much like breakfast), and one or two stayed away because they can't cope with incense, there was a reasonable congregation from both valley and hill.
So we celebrated.
Oh, we DID celebrate.
Proper procession with smoke (and a chance to air not just my farewell cope from St M's, but the two in-house copes as well), good solid liturgy with all the propers in the right places, a great sermon from my colleague, some truly splendid hymns (yes, of course we ended with "For all the Saints") and as a special surprise the organist produced one of my very favourite voluntaries, Karg Elert's Nun Danket.
However much I may deplore the style of ministry that allowed the vicar to talk about "my flock...", I have to admit that as we processed out I did feel rather proud of them all, and more than a little propriatory. Not quite "my people" but certainly the people whom God has given me to serve for the moment...We are getting to know each other as the months pass and friendships are growing as we do so.
Standing at the west door afterwards, it seemed that far too many people were leaving without going in to coffee...but when I finally made it into the hall, it seemed I was mistaken. Lots of smiley people drinking wine, eating cake and joining in
"Happy Feast Day to you" with every appearance of enthusiasm.
St Matthew's was founded in 1837.
I wonder how the founding fathers viewed the future.
I hope they rejoiced with us as we gave thanks for our patron and the life of our church through the years down to today.
I'm so glad to be here