The streetwise Shepherds have returned to their flocks, and the Geeks from the East have arrived at Bethlehem via Jerusalem with their Gifts and had to modify their Theory of Everything somewhat. It’s that inbetween time – the world thinks Christmas is all over.
But it’s not all over until the waiting old man and the prophetess see Jesus in the Temple at Candlemas and the old man sings Nunc Dimittis. (Please note that this year we have transferred Candlemas to Sunday 1st February, with both Mass and Evensong sung.)
And not before we have also marked the Conversion of St Paul the previous Sunday, instead of Epiphany 3 or Septuagesima this year. The radical Paul, who may have played on his Roman citizenship and been a bit ambivalent about women, but put Gentile and Jew, slave and free, rich and poor, as equal in the Church, and lived with some sort of chronic illness or disability, his “thorn in the flesh”, from Stephen’s stoning through the Damascus Road to adventurous journeys spreading the Good News of that same Jesus.
The Faith, Hope and Love of St Paul’s famous Letter should be seen mirrored in our Church life as a Worshipping, Witnessing and Caring community, where, as at the Manger, all are welcome.
So our journey to Lent looks like:-
Friday 9th January at 7.30pm. Recitals@StMichael’s will feature Eleanor Little and Ralf Ayling-Miller, the winners of our Young Organists’ Competition. £5/£3.50
Sunday, 11th January, Epiphany I, 10.45am Sung Mass (Baptism of Jesus)
Setting: Missa Brevis, Wills. Anthem: Sicut cervus desiderat ad fontes, Palestrina.
Sunday, 18th January, Epiphany II, 10.45am Sung Mass
Setting: Missa “L’Hora Passa”, Viadana. Anthem: Beati quorum via, Stanford.
Sunday, 25th January, Conversion of St Paul, 10.45am Sung Mass
Setting: Mass in F, Harold Darke. Anthem: The Lord is my shepherd, Schubert.
Wednesday 28th January at 7.30pm, St Michael’s “Heritage” Lecture exploring the effects of history and religion on church music in Devon, with West Gallery Singers and St Michael’s choir.
Sunday, 1st February, Candlemas, 10.45am Sung Mass
Sunday, 1st February 6pm Evensong & Benediction
Sunday, 8th February, Sexagesima, 2 before Lent, 10.45am Sung Mass
Friday 13th February at 7.30pm, Recitals@StMichael’s welcomes “The Frizzante Sopranos”, a Devon-based classical duo, Jane Anderson-Brown and Donna-Marie Hughes, to give a song recital.
Sunday, 15th February, Quinquagesima, 1 before Lent, 10.45am Sung Mass
Shrove Tuesday, 17th February, 6pm Vespers & Meditation, 7pm Choir Practice, 8.30pm Pancakes.
Ash Wednesday, 18th February, 7.30pm Mass with Imposition of Ashes
January 25th also marks the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – The Well is Deep – which has the following interesting commentary on its website:-
“This year’s theme comes to us from the churches of Brazil. Brazilians, who have traditionally been tolerant of their various social classes and ethnic groups, are now living through a time of growing intolerance made manifest in high levels of violence, especially against minorities and the vulnerable. The logic that undergirds this kind of behaviour is competition for the religious market. Increasingly, in Brazil, some Christian groups compete with one another for a place on the mass media, for new members and for public funds. The Brazilian churches have begun to recognise that intolerance should be dealt with in a positive way – respecting diversity and promoting dialogue as a permanent path of reconciliation and peace in fidelity to the gospel. We can share this recognition. Although the competition between churches is less obvious in our islands, we are well aware that competition and violent discrimination lie beneath the surface of our lives together. Jesus challenges us to acknowledge that diversity is part of God’s design, to approach one another in trust and to see the face of God in the face of all men and women.”
The really useful Cross-Country train from Exeter to Edinburgh traverses a dozen Dioceses and affords glimpses of several Cathedrals, such as Durham reflecting the late December afternoon light and the elusive Orthogonal Cathedral of St Pythagoras (sorry, St Nicholas Cathedral, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Jesus, Tyne).
Over Hogmanay, I enjoyed two rather similar stories; the 2013 anti-slavery film “Belle” set in England around 1770, and the hit musical “Wicked” set in the not-so-wonderful world of Oz (now on tour and coming soon to Plymouth and then Bristol). Both revolve around a pair of contrasting girls, having to grow up together through force of circumstances, defying the conventions of their times, and their friendship changing each of them for good and hopefully for the better.
Both seemed to exemplify the Latin maxim used by Lord Mansfield in “Belle”. “Fiat justitia ruat coelum” – Let justice be done, though heaven may fall. And in the event, justice was done, and people coped. Could there be a parable for the Church of England in 2015 too?