Sunday, 27 November 2016

Christian New Year refreshment

I was glad of extra sleep time and not having early start today. By ten fifteen I was on my way to St German's for the Sunday Mass, with all my favourite Advent hymns being sung. I love the simplicity of this season inside church. It's such a refreshing contrast to the kitsch and craziness of city life during the pre-Christmas rush, not to mention Black Friday weekend consumer frenzy. There was a positive and cheery mood among worshippers too. A new liturgical year, a fresh start, albeit on familiar pathways through the celebration of the mystery of faith, is most welcome in this dark and dreary season.

I got back earlier than usual for lunch, as the church hall was occupied by a social event and there was no after church coffee and chat as usual. In the evening Clare and I went to the Advent celebration of readings and carols by candlelight at St Catherine's. There were seventy people present, with twenty of them singing in the choir.  Several Advent anthems were sung whose musical settings I hadn't heard before which was refreshing. Dominic, one of the St Padarn's Institute students on permanent placement in the parish during his training gave a thoughtful address on Advent waiting, confident and enjoying the moment. 

Mulled wine and mice pies were served in the church hall afterwards. I chatted with Dominic who said he'd preached several times before, but this had been the first occasion to preach from a proper pulpit - six feet above contradicition - as the saying goes. A reminder to me of how pulpits have gone out of use in many churches in favour of lectern or legilium at floor level in the nave. In times past when churches were full all year round, and there was no public address system, the pulpit was the best vantage point for addressing the entire assembly and being heard. With smaller congregations, a more intimate kind of engagement is necessary most of the time, and the pulpit seems too formal a place to stand. Adaptation to circumstances and surroundings is vital for preaching the word, 'in season and out of season'.

We got home in good time to settle down and enjoy another episode of 'Y Gwyll' (Hinterland) on S4C. Watching the full Welsh edition with subtitles is proving helpful to my comprehension of informal everyday Welsh conversation. Because of regional differences in accent and use of dialect words it's far from easy to start with, but over the years I've learned a fair amount of vocabulary I've rarely had an opportunity to make use of socially. Spending so much time in Spain hearing conversation and trying to understand what's being said may have sharpened my listening concentration somewhat. There does seem to be some benefit in working at acquiring different languages, despite the potential for confusion.

Perhaps because it's set in a part of Wales with which I'm familiar, with stories that reflect the impact of rural poverty and decline on families and personal relationships, there's a freshness about the series. Last night's Swedish crime thriller 'Modus' seemed more formulaic, ticking the thematic boxes for another hit TV movie and by the looks of it so far, targeting yet again a far right religious extremist sect as the source of tribulation - well, we'll see as it unfolds. Does this reflect this a collective anxiety in Scandinavian society these days, I wonder?

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