Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Lectionary Speaks - but all not welcome

If you had sought them out deliberately you couldn't have chosen better. But they didn't and God spoke to us through the readings assigned for use in the Church of England today.

'Do not fear, or be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it?' (Isaiah 44)

'Like a temple of unity is the city, Jerusalem. It is there all tribes will gather... For the love of my friends and kin I will bless you with signs of peace.' (Psalm 122)

'I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.' (Romans 8)

The Gospel Book was carried in a boat by the dancing Melanesian Brothers and Sisters to the Compass Rose from where it was proclaimed.

And then the climax, when the Bishop of Colombo (Sri Lanka) referred to the Gospel (the parable of the wheat and the weeds): 'But the householder replied...Let both of them grow together...' (Matthew 13). Movingly and gently he concluded his sermon with a haunting Buddhist chant.

The Eucharist was sung to a Congolese setting and many other languages pervaded the celebration and prayers. Again today and throughout our praying, when the Lord's Prayer is spoken in hundreds of languages it is an intense and moving moment.

There were drums and trumpets, rhythm and fanfare and the choir sang an anthem Beati Quorum Via (Psalm 119.1. Music by C.V. Stanford). During Communion they sang O sacrum convivum (Words: St Thomas Aquinas; Music: Garbiel Jackson) and - appropriately - Loquebantur variis linguis - the apostles spoke in many tongues (Thoamas Tallis)

And the hymns? We sing a love that sets all people free (Words: June Boyce-Tillman and music: Woodlands); Christ triumphant ever reigning (Words: Michael Sayward and music: Guiting Power); Jesus the Lord said, 'I am the bread' (Words: Indian origin and music: Urdu melody arranged by Geoff Weaver); Earth's fragile beauties we possess (Words: Robert Willis and Music Kingsfold - Ralph Vaughan Williams); and O for a thousand tongues to sing (Words: Charles Wesley and Tune: Lyngham).

But one hymn, at the end of the Communion challenged uncomfortably: Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live... All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place...' (Words and Music Marty Haugen). As I sang I realised that in one sense all are welcome, however, on this day all were not welcome as all had not been invited. That is our sadness and our challenge.


Hilary said...

I guess many of us were thinking of you all today when we heard the Gospell reading of the whaet and the weeds.
Thank you so much for these very moving details - the sort of thing we'd never get from our newspapers.

surfelix said...

+Paul, what a wonderful, moving description of that Mass. Every one that we all celebrate should be like that - it would heaven !! You were in our prayers yesterday and will continue to be all this week. Meanwhile, the thought of a sermon on "the weeds and the wheat" ending with a Buddhist Chant will energize me for the rest of this week. Wow and Amen to that.

Paddyanglican said...

+Paul - Powerful description and very poignant highlighting of the irony in the words of the hymn; "All are welcome" - If only!