Sunday, 20 November 2016

Sunday reunions

I was up before the alarm went off this morning, set to ensure I'd get to St Catherine's in good time to celebrate the eight o' clock. There were eight of us present, Clare included. I was was joined at the altar by Sam, one of two students on parish placement in Canton for two years of his training in the new St Padarn's Institute, which amalgamates existing ministry training centres of the Church in Wales in a comprehensive organisation aiming to meet the needs of a variety of students with different background experience and ages. He's just started ministry after two formative years as a member of a community under a Benedictine inspired rule living the Parish of Abergavenny, one positive innovation to occur in the Welsh church in recent years.

One the way back afterwards we bought breakfast croissants in the Coop, which I notice has gone through another re-branding re-imaging exercise since I've been away. I wonder what that cost them I why it was thought necessary to revert to something nearer to what used to be the recognisable brand identity?

We ate together in a leisurely way afterwards, before I had to set off to celebrate the St German's Solemn Mass. It was a delight to be welcomed back and step back into a familiar pattern of ritual and worship with a congregation I know well. I love the sense of praying with the people there. So often as a locum priest still getting to know the ways of different congregations, I feel like I'm taking a service for them and it's not quite the same. It's the difference between dancing with a familiar partner and having to learn to dance with someone new. No matter how skilled you may be at adapting, that special sense of spiritual intimacy only grows with familiarity.

Afterwards, I left immediately, to drive straight out of town to the Country House Hotel, Thornhill, to join a lunch party arranged by the Friends of St John's. It was a lovely occasion, re-united with many old friends from my time as Vicar of Cardiff's City Parish Church. Earlier this week I was looking at photos of church outings and glimpsed people who would no longer be at the lunch as they've died over the years since. All those people with whom I shared those amazing years in my final incumbency, I still feel close to, living and departed.

We left for home just after four. The sun was low in the sky and although Cardiff was in shadow and about to be illuminated by street lights, the Severn Estuary was still aglow and silvery with sunshine. It is such a special place to see the entirety of the Cardiff's coastal plain. After supper, we watched the fourth episode of 'Y Gwyll' on S4C. Another finely crafted piece of film drama, it didn't disappoint.

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