The College of St George as a rhythm and pattern – a routine of three terms fitting neatly round the cycle of the Church’s year.Today with Christians throughout the world we have marked the feast of Pentecost.This is a celebration of holy disturbance, of transformation and change.At the heart of it there remains a central paradox and contradiction and even tension that we Christians must learn to articulate and live with.
Put simply what is the relationship between community and Temple; between person and shrine? Have not all renewals Christianity been in part of breaking out of our natural tendency to legalism and control, structure, stability, power and hierarchy? Was not the revival of Methodism with John and Charles Wesley the profoundest of direct challenges to the complacency of Anglicanism? Was not Vatican II an attempt to renew and refresh the Roman Catholic Church in its mission and ministry?
The first story of Pentecost does not need a building or structure or a shrine – it is the narrative of a powerful movement of the spirit of God in and through the desires of men and women to follow Christ and to proclaim his redeeming love.It is sometimes difficult and indeed almost impossible to translate this movement of the spirit into the traditional structures of historic Anglicanism. We run into very serious difficulty if we imagine that somehow we can contain the power and fire and truth of the holy spirit within our partial, incomplete and transitory structures and patterns of worship. Some of the hymns of Pentecost pickup these themes so beautifully and disturbingly.
So it is against this background that after a relatively late start the nave of St George’s Chapel became full of family and friends of 25 confirmation candidates who had gathered before Bishop David Conner, the Dean of Windsor, for their confirmation.The space at the height and the light of the Chapel; glorious May sunshine streaming through the West window; the open West door allowing some air and the interesting noise of the outside world to intrude upon our worship were some of the physical features of our Sung Eucharist and confirmation for Pentecost Sunday.
It was moving to hear the candidates affirm their faith and commit themselves as best as they were able to follow Christ and to put his love into action through the living out of the gospel. There were of course a mixed group, mostly schoolchildren from St George’s school but also residents from the Great Park and other adults who had come to this point of decision. it was a privilege to participate in this act of commitment.
The Choir sang Mozart which lifted our spirits and an active congregation were asked to consider what the candidates were doing in this service.
These larger services form part of our regular pattern of Sunday worship here at St George’s and working in a clergy team allows me more than most other of my priest friends to participate and worship in the space and engagement and attention to God. the liberation from having to hold the worship allows one the opportunity to listen carefully, to reflect and to dig deep into Christian wisdom. So today I’m praying for all those confirmation candidates who affirmed their faith in this service and asking God to bless them as they journey into the future.
A family party followed when I was glad to be able to celebrate my sister’s 50th birthday (rather belatedly) with a lunch out of town.the searing heat did not seem to put off many tourists wandering around the castle and we retreated to number 6 for some refreshment.Evensong followed at 515 and now I think after some further conversation a relatively early night beckons.
Another day – God’s day – the sabbath day.