Thursday, 5 April 2012

Maundy Thursday with friends

The last few days I've passed the mornings quietly at home, absorbing Spanish from TV-Espagne's 24/7 news website, and the BBC's web course 'Mi Vida Loca', which is entertaining and educational. Having spent the equivalent of a month in Spain last year means there's quite of lot of familiar experiences to draw upon, and vocabulary to be raised out of hidden memory to the surface of the mind. Reading and making sense of simple written texts is already possible, but I need to do a little spoken work every day so that when the time comes I'll be able to open my mouth and be confident of being understood.

During Lent I've also been reading a Gospel passage for the day in Greek as well as English, to reconnect with a pathway into the meaning of scripture which regretfully I didn't follow after I left St Mike's. It's harder to revive the memory for words I can still read, but whose meaning I seem to have forgotten, but habitual reading restores the links piece by piece like a jigsaw, along with the memories and associations of theological study over forty years ago. I always liked the study of languages, with all their nuances of expression, but I was too preoccupied with trying to make sense of my role as a Pastor to make a real effort, until we went to Switzerland and it became a daily pastoral necessity. Now there's no excuse. I have the time, and can feel pleasure accompanying the effort.

I've continued walking to the different churches to join in the local Parish evening Masses following afternoon sessions in the office. It's rare that I don't have to go somewhere by car to take a service, so I've appreciated the feeling of being quietly grounded for once. Clare and I have talked on the phone while she's at the conference in Basel, enjoying her involvement in this thoroughly international gathering of Steiner educationalists. She's travelling home today, and will arrive late tonight. So, I've had time to complete by Good Friday sermon, and clean the house thoroughly, to prepare for the Paschal Feast and the welcome of Kath, Anto and Rhiannon tomorrow afternoon.

This evening I drove to St Hilary Parish Church to join the Cowbridge Benefice celebration of the Last Supper. The Liturgy included the elements of the Jewish Passover ritual as well as the usual scripture readings, footwashing, transfer of the sacrament after Communion, followed by stripping the altar, done by several lay people while the celebrant read the story of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane before we stepped out into a cool spring night illuminated chiefly by the Paschal moon, village street lamps being a discreet distance away, beyond the churchyard boundary wall.
The service was beautifully crafted and well executed with lots of congregational participation. How refreshing it was to be on the receiving end, to start the Paschal Triduum worshipping in a lovely twelfth century church among people I've got to know over the past year from my Sunday visits to their local churches. I really felt that I was among friends.

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