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Stebbing, Great Dunmow, Essex, United Kingdom
The occasional blog of an Anglican priest in rural Essex

Sunday, 28 September 2008

I'm going home ... to see my baby

Ten Years After sang that at Woodstock. It was very long - a whole side of the LP I think.

I went "home" yesterday, ten years after I was ordained, to an ordination at Salisbury Cathedral, where we were both ordained. A good friend was being made deacon, and co-incidentally so were two other people I have shared church with in different ways, all on the same day in the same place.

I don't normally go in for Cathedral worship - too much flouncing about and expensive finery, but this was a special occasion, and so I entered into the Spirit of the Liturgy and found that the old lady (as they call that fine building) had once again become a "thin place" - where the divide between heaven and earth is thin so the sense of God's presence is strong.

Now I know that's not a very rational thing to write and I remain agnostic about exactly how a place is holy but I am beginning to appreciate that there is a link between spiritual experience and temporal location. Places where we met with God in the past evoke memories of those encounters and so make us perhaps more open to another fresh encounter; thus, in supporting my friend in her ordination I was able to relive the amazing experience I had just over 10 years ago, and in reliving it I was refreshed by the Word, (the sermon was great, aimed at non-churchgoing families of candidates who wonder what's going on) the Spirit, the Sacrament and the general atmosphere of celebration.

That's why even though I don't live in Wiltshire any more, and Essex is my home, Salisbury Cathedral will always be my spiritual home, my "filling station", my oasis.

Arsenal 1 Hull City 2 that's why I love football


  1. As you let go more of your evangelical restrictive belief, you will begin to discover God in a real way in the everyday things of life, as you described here, in the Cathedral where it is a thin place. We will make you a real Christian yet! Just Kidding!

  2. Ouch! Just cos I talked about the Cathedral being a special place of encounter doesn't mean I don't encounter God elsewhere or on more conventionally evangelical settings like a Bible study or prayer ministry time (actually I guess that's more characteristically charismatic than evangelical).
    If I really thought my faith was restrictive I'd have packed the whole thing in years ago. For me the beauty of Anglican diversity is that I am able to enjoy the presence of God (and so grow in faith and confidence) in settings as diverse as compline in a convent, a rave service in a field (Greenbelt 92) or a guitar led worship event in a small 14th century church in rural Essex.

    I'd love to spend more time talking about places and ways I encounter God but I've got to put the kids to bed - may be He'll be there!


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