It was my turn to celebrate the Eucharist in College this morning. Because of the pressure on students to pray, eat breakfast and get to nine o'clock lectures on time, there's always an anxiety about the service running on too long. Sometimes it does because student led intercessions go on too long, or because no attention is given in preparation to the length of the set readings. There's the feeling that it's better to drop a reading rather than look carefully at the texts to see where they focus on the essential message, and how it's possible to prune without losing value. But that requires critical examination and reflection and the daily timetable is too crowded for this to be an easy natural thing to do. More's the pity. Anyway, today's choice from the weekday lectionary, plus the simplest unhurried liturgy and plenty of silence only took 25 minutes, which shouldn't stress anyone out.
After breakfast I spent time with a student who had things to talk through, then went down to Canton St John's, to take a Mothers' Union corporate Communion for a dozen older women and one loyal husband. By way of contrast, the liturgy was 1984 Prayer Book. Given the occasion, I improvised a homily reflecting on the St Luke's Gospel passage used about the call of the disciples. Forty relaxed minutes with a congregation that wasn't in a rush to go anywhere. I sat with them and drank tea, then popped home for an early lunch before going out again.
Before visiting the office to catch up with a number of matters needing attention, I had an engagement at St John the Baptist City Parish Church, my beloved former Parish, to conduct a memorial service for the late Nancy Jordan, a member of the congregation for half a century. She died while I was in Sicily and her funeral took place in Abergavenny during the bad weather earlier in the month. Few were able to attend and were in any case sad that it wasn't at St John's, where she was a faithful regular until just a few weeks before her death in her mid-nineties. Everyone who could, of the regular congregation, turned out for the service, accounting for two dozen people a third of whom were the choir.
Amazingly, nearly a hundred others were there as well, which is a remarkable turnout for a nongenarian. As well as family members, there were friends across the generations present, a tribute to her links with her alma mater, Cardiff University and its Graduate Association, also Aberdare Hall in all of which she'd played leading roles for half her life. She was one of that superb generation of women who flourished during World War Two, contributing to the transformation of society in the second half of the twentieth century. I'm so glad to have known some of them over the years, here in Cardiff and back in Geneva.
I hung around chatting to church members for much too long after the service. As a result my time in the office was too short, and I had to dash home to eat and then drive Clare to Dinas Powis before my Tai Chi class. It's not often I feel quite so tired in Tai Chi, having expended a lot of 'liturgical' energy during the day, but by the time we'd finished, I was fairly well restored to normal, ready for bed, and another earlier rise for a trip to London.