I use the word in all seriousness, it was my privilege to be able to Admit to the Sacrament of Holy Communion, 4 young people yesterday.
After a course of preparation called Welcome the Lord’s Table by Margaret Withers and extra services (including a Penitential ‘Sorry’ Service mentioned earlier in this blog), a Seder Meal and a host of other work, we as a parish prayed over these young people and I blessed them for the next stage of their Christian Journey – the road to Confirmation.
This is the second group Lou and Debbie have prepared and we have admitted, meaning that there are now nine young people who are regular communicants in this parish. This is not the church of the future, this is the church of now: the people of God gathering in worship to be fed by the holy and life-giving sacraments.
The young people ministered to us in other ways: a full complement of servers, all of the Ministry of the Word was read by young people, some as young as six, the intercessions were led by them. Caroline our ordinand on placement from Cuddesdon preached the word very effectively and pitched it just right for both children, adults and a number of newcomers to the church, here for the admission; but more of that reflection in my report to College 🙂
The young people gathered around the altar as the Eucharist was celebrated and they had the privilege of receiving first.
The whole Mass was relaxed, reverent and holy – which to be honest is as it always is. A visitor remarked “it is good to see the eucharist presided over by someone who takes it seriously”, and I was reminded of our mantra at Mirfield – to take our faith seriously and our religion lightly, for there is so much about the practice of religion and especially our Anglocatholicism which is frivilous and silly, and worthy of a smile, and yet at the heart of it all is a profound truth that is beyond ridicule. I remarked in the notices that I have never been a supporter of the “family service” which seeks to denude worship of all its mystery and turn it into entertainment, because each and every Mass should be a family service, should be accessible to the whole community to worship together and enable all to gather and receive the sacraments. If you are not saying a Mass that isn’t already “all-age” then you clearly aren’t doing it right.
Afterwards. nearly 30 people gathered at the local curry house for a buffet. Last week, a man had been stabbed to death outside it but I must emphasise that that is a rare occurrence in Gosport. Amid flowers and candles (more material for my research on the secular roadside shrine), the family feeling continued as a huge extended church family shared what could only be described as an Agape Lunch. I sat in the midst of the children, who were amused by my improvised headgear:
The food was lovely, the conversation wide-ranging and engaging and a good time was had by all. It was a fitting end to a wonderful celebration.
God is indeed good.
When there is turmoil and schism and hatred and division throughout the church, there comes a time when we have to just STOP and pause and see what actually is important in this world and to this world. The baby Jesus must cry sometimes to see all of this condemnation and division, the exclusion of some and the slavish devotion to power and money and success which is more like the devotion to the enemy (I think reading the Alpha News insert which came with Church Times this week has focused this thinking – so much which reeked of triumphalism, of success, success, success, of money and it came over like a Party Manefesto – so full of spin and about as believable.) He said “My Kingdom is not of this world” and he actively rejected the trappings of power, and relied on an authority given by his Father, which needed no earthly simulacrum. When there is such division in the Church, it is about time we stopped arguing about trivialities, about who is sound, unsound, biblical, unbiblical and got on with the sacramental proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord.