THE SEAL OF THE SPIRIT?
Declining vocations, rising quotas, clergy financial cutbacks and the need for major pastoral reorganisations could all be obviated and facilitated by the latest bit of American marketing. Mini communion cartons containing hermetically sealed wafers and wine are now selling 25 million a year Stateside. While these have sold largely to those worried about catching diseases from the shared chalice or priests' hands the potential is obvious. The age of the take away eucharist is here!
No longer do we need to get up at some unearthly hour on the Sabbath, huddle in a freezing barn and endure an hour and a half of some curious cove, dressed up like a Liberty’s window, haranguing us with the profundity of a Christmas cracker motto, whilst we pay through the nose for the privilege. An alternative scenario looms.
Container loads of “Celebration Cups” (as the product is known) would be centrally consecrated by Archbishop George, from whom, if one understands his recent pronouncements correctly, all ministry is drawn anyway. These would be shipped out to lay franchisees at appropriate distribution points and administered in response to stewardship payments.
The consequent rationalisation of properties, pensions and stipend could leave a fitter, leaner church staffed simply by a network of bishops, archdeacons, canons, chaplains, chauffeurs, secretaries and gardeners.
Turnbull is obsolete.
A correspondent, from a London hospital, produces the following example of forward thinking sacramentalism. A chaplain, of another denomination, turned up at the bedside of his neighbour in the ward. Having ascertained that the man was from the correct “tribe”, the chaplain quizzed him as to the length of his stay.
“Six or seven days, I’ve been told, Father” replied the patient.
“Well, is it six or seven?” hectored the clearly overtired chaplain.
“Say seven to be on the safe side, Father.”
The chaplain whipped out his pyx and lined hosts up on the bedside locker. “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven! There you are. Take one a day! God bless you.”
To paraphrase our Lord - How often does one encounter faith like that?
EARTH TO EARTH
A liberal reader has contacted 30 Days to say how much he resents enjoying New Directions and also to provide this cheering story.
Attending a recent conference at High Leigh, he went to a celebration in the chapel conducted by a lady presbyter participant. Finding himself somewhat puzzled by the wholesale changes to the liturgy he was nevertheless more distracted by the third element on the altar. After receiving the bread and wine and the final blessing he went to examine the mysterious bowl. It was a bowl of earth. Further enquiries revealed that, in a proper celebration, “Mother” always comes too.
Congratulations to Canon Margaret Escritt for her pioneering ecumenical work. Now that the Home Office has recognised paganism as a bona fide religion (presumably as part of the “Back to Basics” campaign) Ms Escritt approached the Pagan Federation to invite one of their ministers on board the prison chaplaincy at Everthorpe Hall near Hull.
Mr. Philip Heselton, a conservation officer for Hull City Council, has visited his charge regularly over the last nine months to discuss the “faith”. He refuses to celebrate pagan ritual in prison as the worship of the earth spirit etc. is, necessarily, an outdoor activity.
Should the right to worship outdoors be granted, and all fair minded readers of 30 Days will want to lobby Ms. Escritt to push the Home Office for this basic right, one can imagine paganism suddenly becoming an immensely popular devotion amongst Her Majesty’s guests.
Well done Peter Berry! When Lord Mayor of Brum, Councillor Marion Arnott- Job, demanded changes to the sexist national anthem, Pete the Provost was quick to comply. Out went offensive words like “brothers” and “men” and in came lines which, while they didn’t quite scan, were much more acceptable to the well known loyalist majority on Brum council.
As Pete, who after spending 30 of his 34 years in ministry in Cathedrals, is clearly sensitive to the needs of civic worship, it may be worth asking him to consider in future, removing the word “Queen” as well, since this is all too easily construed as homophobic.
The Church of England is the poorer for the passing of Fr David Nicholls, Vicar of Littlemore, the Oxford parish of John Henry Newman. Apart from being a much loved pastor, Nicholls was widely recognised as one of the most acute and radical minds commenting on the political and religious scene. He also had a great sense of fun. Apart from his wife Gillian, Nicholls also shared his home with Archdeacon William Paley, the namesake of the great 18th century latitudinarian. Paley frequently wrote to The Times and was not infrequently published. He also appeared in the Diocesan Directory.
All the more surprising as this particular Archdeacon was Nicholls' pet Trinidadian macaw, who passed on within a few days of his master.
BRUM GOINGS ON
Rumour reaches the 30 Days office of curious goings on in the Diocese of Birmingham, (Proprietor M. Santer).
St. Aidan's Small Heath passed A, B and C by the required majorities after due notice The diocese accepted A and B, but refused to acknowledge C because the parish was in interregnum. St. Alban's, Conybere Street was advised not to put C during an interregnum. All Saint's, Shard End, which passed C under the previous incumbent has been persuaded to rescind it, interregnum notwithstanding (and this at a meeting notable for its bizarre procedural practices and the presence of the Patron).
We look forward to the Archimandrite of Aston Villa assuring us that this will be corrected and that there is not one rule for the orthodox and one for the liberals.
An elderly couple from Truro have called in to express their disappointment. Their vicar invited them to join Bishop Ball's Celebration of Marriage service at the cathedral recently.
Approaching their Golden Wedding, this seemed a lovely opportunity to give thanks and celebrate. Imagine their surprise when the preacher turned out to be none other than the co-author of the 'living-in-sin' report, Something to Celebrate, 'Big' Jim Thompson of Bath and Wells.
Feeling that their marital longevity was directly attributable to not imbibing such deep draughts of liberal wisdom, they cancelled the coach tickets and went out for some table fellowship at a local hostelry with Christian friends.
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