Smells & bells

The last few days have been curiously full of organ music, so much so that I’m getting to the point where I don’t expected a chandelier to fall or a masked man to jump out and sing, Christine! Christine! every time a chord is played in my presence. No doubt this is a step forward. Johnny, our curate at Christ Church Spitalfields, was priested on Saturday at St John at Hackney in a service which was surprisingly impactful (at least for me) and full of delectable, symbolic high-church-ness.

Then today I visited a new friend, Pippa, at her church, St James Hyde Park. They know how to strike a balance between what I have had helpfully described to me as the ‘pew aerobics’ of the formal church and the chaotic joy of including children and young people in the service.  They also made greater use of incense than any church I have visited in…well…ever, at least proportionally. Does this make them the most incensed? [Groan.]

All terrible puns aside, I am enjoying these little infusions of formal liturgical worship and tradition. Maybe it’s my early childhood experience of Lutheranism which is causing them to echo so strongly and positively. Doubtless part of it is the novelty of worshipping in traditions different to the one I am used to. But I like to think that it means that as I move between these traditions, I at least am developing the vocabulary to understand them, to evaluate them and to see their beauty.


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