Friday, 6 May 2016

'Vibrations of Goodness'

It was Ascension Day yesterday and quite a busy one here in Amersham!

In the morning I was very pleased to receive an invitation to join St Michael’s for their Ascension Day Eucharist in the Lady Chapel – and this was followed by a Clergy Lunch for those of us who minister on ‘The Hill’.

The next three weekends at church have a certain pattern that never changes from year to year: Ascension Sunday followed by Pentecost Sunday followed by Trinity Sunday.  That last one ushers in a liturgical season that basically lasts right up until November and the beginning of Advent!

Trinity (sometimes called ‘Ordinary Time’) lasts for almost half the Church’s Year and it’s a long season with only Remembrance Sunday and Harvest to break it up – we seem to put all the major festivals in the first half.  To avid ‘stole’ watches this season’s liturgical colour is green!

I suppose in a way I celebrated Ascension yesterday with music.
In the evening we went to St Martin in the Fields as part of the congregation for the BBC Radio  4 live broadcast of ‘A Celebration for Ascension Day’ – it was great fun being ‘rehearsed’ before hand and singing up when the red light came on!  It was a great service as it included a jazz setting of communion composed by Will Todd who was present with his Ensemble. 

The Bishop of Liverpool preached the sermon which included inspirational one liners such as ‘the earthing of heaven’ and ‘a faith with two horizons’.

During the journey into town on the train I listened to a fascinating podcast from Radio Wales’ Sunday Morning Programme presented every week by a former President of the Baptist Union, The Revd Roy Jenkins.  In this particular podcast he was interviewing the composer Margaret Rizza.  Over recent years many of us have grown to love the church music of this Opera singer turned composer.

Margaret is also a Patron of The Retreat Association and her music has a certain spiritual quality about it that makes it both hauntingly beautiful and profoundly moving.

She has come to composition ‘late in life’ – that’s her description – and she spoke with such conviction of her desire to unite music and prayer and hopes that both are a force for good in a fractured world.  In fact Margaret’s description (and longing) for her music, and her prayers, is that they might carry ‘Vibrations of Goodness’.  Isn’t that a stunning phrase and one that, I think, says so much about what we believe is the value of worship and prayer – that somehow in their communication something of God’s presence is communicated. 

But perhaps my abiding memory of Ascension Day 2016 is that of sitting up in the gallery of St Martin’s watching the pure delight on my eldest son’s face as he listened to the last piece of music in the service – a jazz rendition of Sing Hosanna - to which we were all tapping our feet.  For me it really did feel like a ‘Vibration of Goodness’ moment – and I thank God for it!

All good wishes,

Ian    

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