Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The oldest continuous church service in the Anglican Communion

Sorry about the rather less than snappy title here. Last night I was at the 357th Festival of The Sons of the Clergy. Another mouthful. It's a charity founded in the middle of the seventeenth century by a group of sons of clergymen to support the families of members of the clergy who, having remained loyal to to the monarchy during the period under Cromwell, had been deprived of their livings and left destitute. The first Festival in 1655 was the charity's founding event and there's been a Festival every year since then without a break.

The festival is a full on, theatrical, ritualistic church service at St Pauls. It's a BIG event. Over 80 Livery Company Masters and every notable from the Lord Mayor (last night Locum Tenens) and Sheriffs to top brass from the Corporation, the College of Canons, the Dean and Chapter, Aldermen, the Bishop of London and 11 Bishops from throughout the Country, plus in addition to the St Pauls choir, also the choirs of Worcester Cathedral and St Mary's Edinburgh. And the trumpeters of the of the band of the Blues and Royals and more besides. The procession as you may imagine took a long time. St Pauls was full. Defying the dodgy acoustics of St Pauls the combined choir singing a long anthem was a joy. It was a long service but none the worse for that. It was the church of England in its highest gear --subject only of course to Royal Weddings.......but naturally, it was a celebration of its own good works.
The sermon was based (remember this is for a charity) on ministries, whether ministering to the sick or ministering for religious reasons. The common thread was the need to relate to the whole person. For doctors not just to treat the disease but to treat the whole person. For the vicar to minister not just to a person's spitritual needs but to the whole person in his or her own personal context. In our relations with others we should see the whole person. It was put better than this and with typical Welsh eloquence since the preacher was the Archbishop of Wales. From where no doubt my next blog will come.

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