Friday, April 06, 2007

Easter time

Most of my blogs are securely from a secular perspective (that is to say that I blog secular and even from time to time refer to 'Christians' in the 3rd person...), which is kind of funny when I spend so much time in churches....

So I thought (the thought came to me during the Maundy Thursday Vigil last night) that I might blog a few words about how I'm experiencing Easter.

I should say that this is now my 4th Easter observed in the Anglo-Catholic way and of course the liturgy is by and large the same but the experience and how it changes you is different each time.

The service is very striking but the Vigil allows for a mental discipline of just remaining in the side chappel with little other than you thoughts, the candles on the altar and some flowers. The stilling of the mind lingers on and makes you think you should pray like that more often....

The Good Friday service is one of simplicity and quiet and the remembering of the sufferings of our Lord.

Saturday - Easter Vigil - a long service, starting off with a bonfire and with the renewal of baptismal vows. The strong points for me are the procession in near darkness into the Church, the procession down to the font and trying not to be covered in hot wax from the Paschal candle; Gloria in Latin for the first time after Lent with the ringing of bells, the first Regina Caeli.

Followed by the Easter Sunday service itself (the first service I attended my conversion as a young teenager was an Easter Sunday Mehodist service so it has a special resonance), followed by a service of benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in the evening.

Christmas is a very strong time for celebrating the faith but for me it's Easter that is the strongest time and when you are most open to reflection and introspection.

We are only at the mid point at the moment of the Triduum and I feel very differntly to the experience compared to how I thought I would. The Maundy Thursday never fails to be a full stop to all the thoughts that are swirling around in your head and hopefully reorienting towards the things that are in fact important.

The sense of being taken out of time by an ageless liturgy that is being celebrated all over the globe. And a special sense of grace after recent disputes that I've blogged about (extensively) elsewhere.

For now'll just leave my favourite verses from today's hymn:

The strife is o'er, the battle done,
the victory of life is won;
the song of triumph has begun.

The powers of death have done their worst,
but Christ their legions hath dispersed:
let shout of holy joy outburst.

He closed the yawning gates of hell,
the bars from heaven's high portals fell;
let hymns of praise his triumphs tell!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Not an April Fool; but still foolish

Well seems I was wrong (though thses days every story in the Observer seems equally improbable, whether published on April 1st or not - does that mean I'm getting older?).

Covered by the BBC here.

Anyway it seems that the Church of England (or parts of it) is practicising (allegedly) discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation and placing itself above the law.

I await the outcome of the case with interest.

A catalogue of this year's crop can be found on this BBC page - though I must say I thought the one about Tony Blair becoming an actor was genuine....

Brilliant April Fool in today's Observer ....

Todays Observer (bearing in mind the date is April 1st) has this hilarious report about a Bishop Priddis (obviously a made up name) who is being taken to an Employment Tribunal for refusing (allegedly) to employ someone on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Well I must congratulate the Observer on a really funny and ingenious April fool which really had me going for a few minutes until I remembered the date.

Of course it has to be made up. We do in fact know that while "there is a range of opinion amongst the Christian Churches over the issues of Human Sexuality [presumably they're completely agreed about non-human sexuality.....] we would oppose all forms of discrimination based on a person's sexual orientaiton" as is so often repeated to us ad nauseum.

I for one chide myself for not taking the Church of England at face value when giving such clear assurances. Who could be more honest and straight forward than a Christian?