Where better to be invited to preach Jesus crucified on Good Friday that in a church dedicated in honour of the Holy Cross? It's unusual as church dedications go. This is the Parish Church of Cowbridge, although strange to say it hasn't been designated Parish Church for long, just a decade or so of its nearly eight hundred year history. The fourteenth century church of Saint John the Baptist Llanbleddian, a village just outside the market town was originally the Parish Church, a foundation of Tewksbury Abbey. Holy Cross, although larger was a chapel of ease with a Chaplain appointed by the Abbey to serve the townsfolk. This was a similar arrangement to that of St John's City Parish church, itself a chapel of ease for Cardiff Castle, established by Tewksbury. It became a Parish Church after the reformation, but Llanbleddian retained its status and Holy Cross remained a chapel of ease until the creation of the Rectorial Benefice of ten churches in recent times.
Here's the nave and long chancel, all stripped bare of decoration (apart from the red carpet) ready for the noon-tide Liturgy, before the congregations started arriving. I drove early to Cowbridge, to have some quiet time in church, and work out how to arrange the ceremonial side of things beforehand. Just over thirty people came, with very few of them under fifty. Most younger people would be with their families and making preparations for Easter, if not already on vacation. Church doesn't seem to figure much in the idea of a holiday weekend any more.
When I got home, I took my daily internet dose of RTVE 24/7 news channel in Spanish to help develop my capacity for comprehension. I was amazed at the news round up of Holy Week and Good Friday public events taking place all around Spain - not only the length and variety of reportage, but also the fact that it came before the sports news! There's such a lot of sport and politics on Spanish TV that this surprised me. But then, despite Spain's secularity these days, there's still a huge place in cultural life for public religious theatrical ceremonies. Little compares with it in the colder climate of northern Europe.
Kath, Anto and Rhiannon arrived at supper time, and we spent the evening enjoying ourselves around the table, somewhat anticipating the coming festivity maybe, but so appreciative of the opportunity to relax and be together as a family.