Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

This was another relaxed morning. Having been recruited last night, I reported with four of my colleagues at 10:15 for orientation toward the duty of bearing a chalice at the 11am Sung Eucharist. Meeting in the oldest sacristy in continuous use in England, we were supplied with albs and stoles, and then given prominent seats near the High Altar. Serving Holy Communion from that location was surely an unforgettable experience. The Church of England liturgy allows Candlemas to be observed on the Sunday prior, so that feast was kept today. To mark the pivot point between the Incarnational and Paschal cycles of the year (the Sundays that follow are "before Lent"), we concluded by having the entire congregation of about 500 process down from the quire and High Altar into the nave (about a ten foot drop in elevation!) and to the font for some concluding devotions. As it happened, I found myself right in front of the choir, so I had a row of boy trebles singing into my ears for the last couple of verses of the processional hymn. Sweet.  Coffee hour was held in the Chapter House, which is where the resident monks used to have their regular meetings. It was good to be able to mingle with the congregation. We were very hospitably received.

After some down time for lunch, informal conversation, and, in my case, some private walking around in the cathedral nave, Evensong was at 3:15. Attendance was rather higher than on weekdays, and the anthem was the iconic "I Was Glad" by Charles H. H. Parry. We gathered shortly afterward with Canon Condry (who has been a real workhorse this week), who gave us a retreat-style meditation on the vocation of the Anglican Communion, not so much to Anglicans themselves, but to the rest of the Church. What is our special charism for the benefit of the whole Body of Christ?

After dinner our guest was an American gentleman named Gene Sharp, along with his assistant Jamila Raqib and Scottish documentary film maker Rauridh Arrow. Mr Sharp is a renowned scholar and theoretician of tactics for non-violent overthrow of repressive regimes, and has been credited with inspiring successful non-violent revoutions in Serbia, Georgia, and much of the recent "Arab spring." We watched the new film "How to Start a Revolution" and had a discussion with Mr Sharp afterward.

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