Sunday, 9 October 2016

Sunday at Mojacar and Aljambra

This morning, my first assignment to celebrate the Eucharist at the Ermita de San Pascual, some 6km from Mojacar Playa centre and 10km from where I'm staying. I got there in good time, and found already a dozen or more people were organising and getting ready to welcome people to the service. By eleven o'clock sixty people were gathered for worship, and some of them had come a long distance to pray together. The service was conventionally Anglican Common Worship, with hymns that were sung with enthusiasm.

Afterwards there were refreshments on the church terrace - there's no church hall, but there is an outside servery, nicely tiled, integrated with the exterior of the building, from where refreshments are served. It's an ingenious arrangement, and characteristic of what's possible in an environment where the sun shines and it's not too hot for most of the year. Anglicans have use of this Ermita, with the practical support of the local Alcadesa (Mayor) On occasions the place is used for Catholic celebrations, but maintained and run for Anglican services - a superb attractive community asset.

In the afternoon, I drove inland to Aljambra to officiate and preach at Evensong, leaving early enough to give myself half an hour to look around Albox, and take a few photos. I found the east side parish church of St Francisco, and talked in English  with two foreign visitors, who were looking for a place for Sunday worship, but was unable to help them, as it was impossible to  find a noticeboard with local Mass times. 

In by brief walk, I found the place where there was a local mosque. There were two buildings on the site, one which was apparently the original, and another in front of it, a lot more imposing, representing a substantial funding investment. A social expression of confidence by the Muslim community, in this town whose development a millennium ago was due to the conquest of southern Spain by Arabs (Moors), but whose resurgence reflects immigration over the past quarter century.

At Aljambra I had the pleasure of officiating and preaching at an English Prayer Book Evensong. It's a long time since I last sang the English office in its entirely, though we did the Church in Wales edition in St John's City Parish Church most Sunday when I was Vicar. My guess is, that the last time I did a full BCP Evensong was September 2000 just before I left Geneva for my sabbatical in Jerusalem. I still relish speaking Prayer Book language. It's not a performance, like participating in a Shakespearean work of art. Memory and understanding connect heart and mind differently. These ingrained words date back to childhood, well before the Church in Wales started work on revising it, to create its own version. I'll be here, doing Evensong here again next month, and that'll be another pleasure to savour.

After the service, two thirds of the congregation went to a Chinese restaurant a few kilometres away for supper. It ranks as one of the busiest I ever recall visiting. We had to wait to occupy tables and then wait for over an hour to be served. Having had a big lunch I wasn't that hungry, but enjoyed the company. Sweet and sour aubergines with ham 'n egg flavoured rice was as much as I could manage to eat. It's the second time this week I've driven this road back to Mojcacar. It gets easier every time.

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