Last year at Diocesan Synod Bishop John told us of plans to acknowledge outstanding service to the church by lay people and asked for suggestions of people who might be appropriate. Immediately I thought of some of my altar servers. Walter, Willie and Frank have, between them, served at the altar for over 200 years. Walter has served for 67 years, Frank for 56 years and Willie for over 70 (not all at Christ Church).
Last week on the Feast of the Ascension Bishop John came to present them with the St Cuthbert award and they proudly pinned the badges on to their cottas. It is an often unseen ministry, sacrificial and always done with great reverence. I know I couldn’t do my job without my servers propping me up, fetching glasses of water, setting up the altar, running out for new microphone batteries and forgotten sermons and spare specs, counting numbers, carrying Paschal candles without dripping wax (not always successful), reacting at the last minute to flighty changes in liturgy and all without a murmur of complaint.
And I know in the weeks and months ahead when Christ Church is in a vacancy and there are visiting clergy every week, they will gently guide them round ‘our ways’. And I know they will be appreciated just as much by them as they have been by me.
Forgot to tell you what I did on my day off this week. (Well, half day, actually.) Having worked all morning I decided to sit down and watch a movie which is becoming a rare event these days. Who has two hours to spare? Anyway, I watched The Golden Compass and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I did read the book when it first came out but my memory’s not what it could be these days so I can’t really comment if it stuck to the book or not. And I dare say bits were missed out because of time constraints. But I thought it was wonderful and the special fx were amazing. Lots of well known faces too.
Son #2 watched it too and was miffed that I hadn’t told him it was part one of a trilogy. I know what he means. I hate when I get to the end of a programme and its says ‘to be continued’.
A bit like the Ascension really, when you come to think about it. (Oh no, I’m starting to sound like someone on Late Call!”)
Happy Ascension Day!
Services today at 10am and 7.30pm (sung).
There is a story that when Jesus returned to heaven after his death and resurrection, the Archangel Gabriel was surprised to see him back so soon. Thirty three years is not a long time, especially when you think about the importance and proportions of the task he had been given to do.
‘Back so soon?’ Gabriel said to Jesus.
‘Well, I would have stayed longer but they crucified me,’ Jesus replied.
‘Oh, so they crucified you,’ said Gabriel. ‘That means you failed.’
‘Not necessarily,’ said Jesus. ‘You see I called together a little group of disciples. They will carry on my work.’
‘And what if they should fail?’ asked Gabriel.
‘I’ve no other plans,’ Jesus answered.
Alleluia! Well, our 40 days of unremitting joy are nearly over. I’m not sure that my little flock really got the whole joy bit, but I’m sure they’ll cope with being back to misery again soon. (No, not ALL of you – in case you are reading this!)
Today always makes me think back to those many pilgrimages to the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham. The Ascension Chapel was always one of my personal highlights. Not much to see at first – just an altar and a couple of candlesticks. Then you look up, and there sticking out of the plaster clouds are two brown feet. Glorious!