Funny, that Christmas thing somewhat got in the way of the blogging. But now as I prepare to go out for the New Year I can briefly look back over the last couple of weeks and see where it all went.
The large A1 sized flipchart filled with things to do (my way of coping with both Christmas and Holy Week) is now filled with ticks, and I can at last relax.
- Journey of Faith Christian Basics Course over Advent – a significant opportunity for teaching, evangelism and catechism.
- Christingle Service – over 200 people in Church, but adequately seated as we planned for a big turn out. First arrivals 45 minutesbefore the beginning “we came at five to- last year and had to stand”. Gallery and Nave completely packed.
- Midnight Mass – celebrated by Mother M, passed off without problems. Dignified. A little more incense than a small building like ours needs, but both the thurifer and I are used to much bigger sacred spaces, and I suspect Mother, well, just got carried away by the lovliness of it all.
- Christmas Day- more than ever before. Not as much as a usual Sunday, but there is a lot of Church between Advent 4 morning and Christmas Day the following day.
- Mary Mother of God, Mass of Healing – with eleven coming for the annointing and laying on of hands. Powerful sacramentals.
- Preparations. Trying to be at the same time creative and yet traditional. Trying to bring back into the Christmas holiday season a sense of the sacred and the meaning of the incarnation, which is almost obscured by either the tinsel and crackers or the chocolate box nativity image. Incarnation is not that nice, it is challenging and visceral and cold and real. Too much to tick off my list and a real panic that for many, this is their own encounter with the sacred a year; and I have the skills and the capability to mess it up for them. God puts a lot of trust in me by putting me here, and I fear I won’t live up it. I know I am not the only priest who feels like this, but I know that people will (for better or worse) judge the Church on what they get from our Masses, and we are frail humanity in ivicare Christo.
- Asking, nay begging people to come forward at Advent 4 and Midnight to come to share in God’s sacraments, with many responding to my usual ‘it does not matter where you are with God, whether you are confirmed or baptised, in the middle or on the edge of faith, God welcomes you to share in these powerful, healing sacraments‘. And some still stayed in their pews. It was almost as though nothing I said made any difference. Paul at the Aeropagus, once more.
So, on balance a really good Christmas. Lots of solid contributions from the parish – helping out, supporting, attending, assisting, setting up and so on. Thank you, God.