Monday 25 December 2017

Making merry this Christmas in church

The questions remain
I am not as religious as I used to be, many questions and challenges from my somewhat rational mind continue to come up against things that were once taken for granted but now need to be explained.
That, we can discuss at another time, I realise I have been to many churches governed by all sorts of interpretations that become the doctrines and tenets of association and fellowship. Some assemblies have been welcoming and others quite hostile. I have concluded that the modern-day leaders of the synagogues are the people who set the tone for how great the reception is for newcomers and those who decide to stay.
The many shapes of God
In one setting, God was an Old Testament deity, fierce and unearthly, ready to exact a terrible revenge for human infractions, in others it was the eschatology of the end-times filling with fear and foreboding about falling short on every account. Then the rituals that were no different from what would obtain at a shamanist, waters and baths, Psalms read until they had no more meaning than incantations to a deaf-blind and mute god.
There was love and well as carping shown from the same congregation consumed with the quest for dominion and leadership above all else, none of which suited my temperament.
All is safe here
I find my comfort within the Church of England, traditional Anglicanism with all its inclusiveness, though that cannot be said of the African side of this movement of people. The simple message of Christly love and the acceptance of others is still a tough message to accommodate by some who make up the clergy, they rail with abominable vitriol, you shudder.
In Manchester, I find the time to attend the Sung Eucharist, I am a confirmed Anglican of over 36 years, the solemnity and quiet is endearing, the individuality of purpose of worship in a congregation of like-minded people from all nations is beautiful to participate in.
To many, church still matters
For the Christmas Midnight Mass on the night into Christmas Day from Christmas Eve, the church was literally full, the choir in full song and there were times they sang in Latin and I did not even pretend to keep up. I guess I still take communion differently especially in the Winter, I would not drink from the cup but dip the bread in the wine.
This morning for the Christmas Day Sung Eucharist, we had the Bishop of Manchester as the president and it was quite humbling to see him shod with sandals. I was in a moment transported to a Christmas morning in Bethlehem. The incense of the night before, the spirituality of the morning after made for a rewarding time of worship.
May the joy of Christmas be with you and your kin. Merry Christmas.

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