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.
It has been a while since there has been a Confirmation at Christ Church. Unfortunately I can’t tell you how long exactly because the Confirmation Register has mysteriously disappeared. (Before I came, I hasten to add!) Last Sunday our brand new Bishop John Armes visited Christ Church as one of his first duties and confirmed five lovely people: Jim, Eleanor, Rebecca, Alasdair and Sam.
The Holy Scrubbers did a marvellous job of making the church deliciously polished and vacuumed. (In fact, there was a concern that the new Bishop might slide off the Bishop’s throne because it was so highly polished.) The flowers were bonny and the pews were full. What more can you ask? The only slight problem was that I was not in control having had to hand over the reins to the Bishop and my lovely servers but I think I coped remarkably well. I may have looked like a meerkat at some points trying to see that everything was being done, but really I should have trusted more.
After the service, and many photographs, there was a lovely buffet lunch in the hall with a rather splendid cake made by Margaret Lyons. Then Bishop John and Clare had a wee romp round the rectory as it was his first visit here.
It really was a glorious day and thanks to all involved.
Yesterday in Edinburgh the Very Rev’d Dr John Armes was consecrated and installed as Bishop of Edinburgh. The cathedral was packed full but strangely this did not make it any cosier. (I wonder what it would take to make the cathedral warm?) Clergy in 70 shades of white were squished side by side with no kneeling room and behaved reasonably well, I’d say. (A certain priest from East Lothian won the Hymn Bingo by guessing that we would have All People that on earth do Dwell. )
So what do you want to know about the event? Who was there? Oh the usual suspects. Bishops past, present and Porvu. There were some rather fetching ecumenical guests in exotic vestments and a very red Cardinal. Clergy and lay readers turned out in force, many of whom I’ve never seen in my life before. Ian Barcroft from Glasgow Diocese preached.
Music? Well I have to be careful here just in case these were all +John’s choices. The mass setting was Kodaly’s Missa Brevis which, lovely though it is, wouldn’t have been my choice for such an occasion. St John’s Princes St choir had joined with the Cathedral choir and they all made a jolly nice sound. I especially loved the Durufle Ubi Caritas et amor which I first heard one Holy Week in Mirfield and have adored it ever since. The litany was especially composed by DJ Ferguson in honour of +John and the cantor was Fr Pip but as it was new we couldn’t really join in. (Well there was an attempt but it sort of died out into a kind of low hum.) After communion we were treated to Jonathan Dove’s Seek Him that maketh the Seven Stars and Stanford’s Te Deum.
After the service was over we all gathered on the lawns in the sun and enjoyed a glass (or bottle in some cases!) of vino and canapes. Actually it was warmer out there than it had been in the cathedral. The best bit was watching all the woman in heels sinking into the damp grass and ending up at an alarming tilt. As ever it was lovely to see many old friends and make some new ones. “Hello, are you Ruth by any chance? I’m ********* and we’re friends on Twitter.” “Oh how lovely. Now I know what you look like!”
Really it was a lovely day. Very Embra, if you know what I mean. And now we have a new Bishop and he’s coming to us first, I reckon. Well he’s coming next Sunday to do 5 Confirmations. I’ll let you know how he gets on! Let’s hear it for our new Bishop… hip, hip…