Sunday, 31 May 2009

Pentecost - new life for the Church

Members of the congregation and visitors to St. Cuthbert's this morning found an iPod playing in the porch this morning: "Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones..." It was of course a reference to today's Old Testament reading from Ezekiel 37.

Paul Heatherington, preaching here this morning, clarified that for anyone who missed the point. And you can find his sermon here.

The main problem I find in celebrating today's Feast is that the readings in the Lectionary are so long. We needed to add an extra page to today's pewsheet to print them all out - and who has the concentration to stay with them all the way? There are shorter options for those who use the new provision in the Common Worship "Feasts" volume. But it takes considerable energy to get everything sorted out ahead of the liturgy. We've done it in previous years. But with Pentecost coinciding with the school half-term holiday (and the resultant diminished congregation), it was just too much for this year.

But next week we're hopefully going to be back to strength - with our celebration of Trinity Sunday to look forward to (and I'm preaching for that!).

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Half-Term Up-date

I often try to take at least part of the school half-term week as holiday - but decided there was little chance of making anything of it this year, our household being caught up in the midst of GCSEs. Actually I'm more anxious about them than my son, and I'm glad to say we did get a good day out (and fine weather) on Bank Holiday Monday - and good weather is promised for the end of the week, so...

Meanwhile I have produced the June issue of our Parish Magazine. The entire print run is sitting in the back of my car at the moment, since the magazine distributor upon whom I drop it was out when I called. But you can read it online (and in colour in the on-line version).

I know I've got lots of form-filling to do during the next few days, and would rather put it off - so instead of motivating exam revision elsewhere in the Vicarage I really need to motivate myself. At least there's a wedding for the next-door parish to look forward to - and I gather someone else is filling in the Registers...

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Anniversary of something we take for granted

I was grateful to our Reader, Rosie Junemann, who pointed out to me that women were admitted to the office of Reader in the Church of England only as recently as 1969 - and last weekend was the actual anniversary of the event. So Rosie got to preach - read her sermon here as she seeks to do the occasion justice, while also taking in lectionary readings about the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch and the Vine of which we are the branches.

I say "as recently as 1969" - and then have to recognise that I'm showing my age. 1969 is now as far off today as 1929 was in 1969. And in 1929 my parents were still in nappies. Everything before the late 1950s seems to me a very long time ago. Maybe it was the coincidence of my birth and the dawning of the age of Rock and Roll that's led to my notion of what is "modern." Though of course what is "modern" now dates rapidly - and all the rounds of liturgical revision we've been through in the Church of England show that once "radically-new" liturgies rapidly tire.

I thought of this yesterday at our Archdeaconry Visitation, when our Wardens, Linda and Carol were sworn in. Our Archdeacon first gave a presentation on the up-dated Durham Diocesan Website - very adept too in his use of PowerPoint! Visitation articles which had enquired after parish's use of the Internet had revealed a definite divide between those who used the Web all the time, and those who had no access even to a computer. And there I was thinking that Facebook was out of date except for the over-50s. Archdeacon Ian then went on to give his Charge (and used as its basis the story of the Ethiopian eunuch - aargh!!! twice in two days!). Anyway it was a brave attempt to move people on, and unusually for a Visitation, people seemed to come away stimulated and enthused. Between sending in our own responses to the layout of the diocesan website and the meeting, I've found that already some changes have been made which correspond with comments we'd made. There's responsiveness (if it was a response to us).

But I'm not the best person to comment on state of the art technology. Our Parish Website looks in some respects distinctly old and creaky (one of the reasons why we now use the Blog and links on the right to archived material). Nevertheless it does the business. Even as I've been typing this post up, I've been rung up by The Times, asking me if there are any couples preparing for marriage we'd like to feature on their Register page. I thought you had to live in Knightsbridge for that - and said I wasn't sure we'd fit their socio-economic profile. Ah, but we're trying to widen our reach, was the response. So, I'm thinking about it... "How did you find my contact details?" I asked. "Through your website," was the reply. So... some old things do work.

And if you wonder about the picture at the top of this post, it was taken at the re-launch event of our Drama Group, One in Seven," (named after the average gradient of Church Bank). It was a loving re-visiting (and re-writing) of old radio shows like Round the Horne - barely remembering some from my childhood, I was struck by how much tongue in cheek and innuendo there was... really quite modern!

Our organist, Bill, brought things to a finale with a rendering of old theme tunes. Here he is just before discovering that we really should have had the piano tuned.