Monday, 26 January 2009

Paul, Burns, Dolls, Unity

You can sometimes tell that people are thinking to themselves "What do priests actually do?" This weekend was an interesting combination. Pope Benedict has asked us all to observe a "Year of St Paul" to mark 2000 years (roughly!) since the great man's birth. In particular, we could observe 25th January as the feast of the Conversion of St Paul, instead of the normal Sunday. So, especially as one of our churches is St Paul's, we did observe it this weekend. In my homily or sermon I let St Paul speak for himself, using half a dozen passages from what I call his Greatest Hits, with a few of my own comments in between. It seemed to go down well, anyway. After Saturday evening Mass at St Paul's, which was helped along by our lively 3 Churches Music Group, I went over to Christ the King Hall where we were having a Burns Night. We do things properly around here - haggis, neeps n tatties , bagpipes (well, on a ghetto blaster) and loads of Burns poetry. Last year I recited "Holy Willie's Prayer" and was asked to do it again this year. It's an attack on hypocrisy in church life, and is a combination of religion and sauciness which always goes down well, especially as spoken by the parish priest!

After our Sunday morning Masses, Fr James and I spent Sunday lunch-time with a lovely couple from St Paul's, enjoying some beautiful lamb cooked Moroccan style. I went straight from there to Christ the King, where the First Communion children were learning about Baptism and wanted me to do a pretend one with a doll. It had pink trimmings on its clothes - but the first of the two groups still wanted it called Nicholas! The second group were more safe and called it Anna... 7/8 year olds are great, full of enthusiasm and searching questions and no preconceived ideas about pink and blue!.

Then I went from there straight to Park End Welsh Presbyterian Church for the United Service of Churches Together in Llanishen & District, marking the end of Christian Unity Week. I did a reading from a Bible whose print was just too small, and I was afraid I was going to let Mother Church down in that embarrassing environment by making a mistake. I managed to get through it. Must remember next time - "Protestant Bibles, smaller print, bring reading glasses". The organization is 50 years old this year and we had a cake; as this year's chair of Churches Together, I had to cut it. I asked were there any kids to help, and one blushing teenage girl came forward so the two of us proceeded to stab the birthday cake together. Two of my ancestors were ministers in the Calvinist Methodist Church, forerunner of the Welsh Presbyterians. Must be turning in their graves at the thought of their Catholic descendant performing there. Or maybe not. I fancy it all looks a little different from the point of view of eternity.

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