Sunday, 20 April 2014

An itch where my dog collar usually is....

Happy Easter! Christ is risen!
This Easter has been slightly odd. It's the first Easter in years where I haven't been responsible for anything happening in church. No liturgy to prepare or take part in. No sermon or intercessions or family service to lead. Nothing.
The Easter Cross at St Alban's Church, Southampton
where I served my title.
It has been lovely in lots of ways. I spent much of my time over the past few days worshiping in the beautiful surroundings of Winchester Cathedral. The three hours devotion on Good Friday was thought-provoking and moving. Judith Maltby's addresses did not shirk the difficult issues (including the latent anti-semitism in some of the readings and liturgy) and the choir were in sublime voice - Lotti's Crucifixus  was beautifully delivered. If I was to be a little critical, I'd have liked a bit more silence (although the supreme fidget I was sitting next to might have spoilt that a little anyway)
The Saturday evening vigil was full of the liturgical drama of the new fire, light and new life at the font (with one of my former 8 o'clock congregation being both Baptised and Confirmed) It was a gorgeous sensory experience but as the risen Christ was proclaimed and celebrated in the Eucharist, something odd happened. My throat was itching so I scratched it. And realised that I was itching exactly where my dog collar would have sat had I been wearing one. And in that moment I realised that while I had loved being ministered to by others, I really missed being the one proclaiming the resurrection, and taking, blessing, breaking and sharing the bread. My vocation as a Christian was certainly affirmed in all that we did together in that service as we all remembered our Baptism following a sprinkling of water by the Bishop, but my vocation as priest among the people of God was itching to be expressed.
Next year and probably for every other year until I retire (!) I will be doing that. This year was lovely. But confirmed in me (yet again) that vocation is a Godly itch that needs to be attended to. I look forward to doing that in a new place very soon.
Happy Easter - may you know the joy and peace of the resurrected Lord - and scratch where you are itching!

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