Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Archbishop's Christmas Sermon

We all went in to Canterbury Cathedral on Christmas morning in a state of grief and shock as my father died on December 23rd. The anonymity afforded by the Cathedral service was comforting. After the civic dignitaries had been seated, we were unexpectedly offered seats in the nave and so had a good view of the whole service. It was wonderful: good liturgy, good sermon, good music--exactly what we needed.

The sermon is available here. But what it can't convey are ways in which the concern for children was placed front and center in the liturgy.

The procession down the aisle included the normal members of the procession together with the Mayor of the City, members of the city council in all their regalia plus members of their families. At the end came the Archbishop. And then after him came a collection of children of different ages right down to differently abled children and their parents and finally infants being carried by their parents as well. And in your reaction to their place of honor beyond even the Archbishop in the procession, you would have been judged and found wanting. Whoever has eyes to see, let them see.

If you turned from looking at the Archbishop to face forward to the high altar, you would have missed the most important people in the procession. If you thought they arrived late and had joined the procession simply to find places to sit, you would be guilty of dismissing them as children so often are in our services. But if you paid them heed, you would have caught the message of the service: we need to safeguard and value the dependency of children in our world.

1 comment:

Jane said...

Deirdre
thank you for pointing to Rowan's as ever wonderful sermon.
I also wanted to say I am thinking of you as you grieve for your father. We also end the old year and begin the new with a death and funeral even in the midst of the feast of the incarnation.
May teh new year bring you joy even in the vale of tears.
Jane