Homily – Music Sunday Orchestral Megasong

Here’s what I said to wrap up our West End Festival events on Sunday evening:

As most of you will know, it is my habit to announce what we are doing at St Mary’s on the internet.

Most people who come through the doors of this church these days for the first time have already encountered us online first.

Our webpage and my blog attract people to this place who are seeking something. No doubt they also put off some others, and that’s OK too. Why waste people’s time if this is not what they are looking for.

I was a little puzzled as to how to describe this service tonight.

It is certainly choral evensong, but that didn’t seem to be enough. There is a touch of the festive about it, but even Festival Evensong does not seem to be a big enough description.

I then looked to see how others were referring to it and found that someone who is singing tonight had referred to it as Choral Megasong. I like that and was typing it into twitter to attract people’s attention and found myself mistyping it.

Was it deliberate mischief or a genuine mistake made me advertise this service as Choral Megasnog?

Straight away, one of my more secular friends tweeted back – “All of a sudden, the church got more interesting”.

The truth is, through this festival month that we have shared together, all of a sudden the church has got more interesting.

We so very often have good music here in St Mary’s one might well wonder what to do when there is a local arts festival.

This year’s West End Festival comes to an end tonight. This service marks our ending of an incredible month.

Music has been so much at the heart of what we have been enjoying that I want to say here from the pulpit a big thank you to those who have sung and played. But more than that, I want to publicly acknowledge the joy of the musical life here at St Mary’s which goes beyond the notes we sing or the pieces that are brought to life in song.

Here in this place we have fun too.

There has been a generosity of spirit about this festival which says much to me about the generosity of faith which is characteristic of this place.

We’ve had visiting choirs from far afield. Ripon Cathedral choir joined us and an evening with an Icelandic choir was particularly memorable. Fueled, by what I presume was rather strong lemonade, the Choir from St Mary’s and the Choir from Reykjavik sang rather boisterous carols to our Lady in Icelandic late into the night.

There have been celebrations of young people’s music making and faith development with achievement ribbons and surplices being handed out to our fabulous young choristers.

And we have dug deep into the traditions of the ages, most notably with our Corpus Christi celebration – the very building seeming to sing along with the Vierne Messe Solenelle. It was one of the highlights of the year, processing, No! parading the sacrament through the church in glad array, re-enacting the truth we believe here, that God is with God’s people.

And if we can better believe the truth that God is fully present in this place by showering the place with scattered flower petals, then flower petals will be scattered with gay abandon.

We take our faith seriously here. Seriously enough to enjoy ourselves.

We have many ways of sharing it.

Whether though the pure beauty of the Couperin organ mass on Friday evening, or sharing in the joy of music making by community and church groups or the rambunctiousness of this mega service tonight, I know that this is a place where joy, delight, faith and wonder somehow combine in glorious counterpoint.

Yes indeed, over our festival month, somehow the church did get more interesting.

Here in St Mary’s we have a simple faith – it is that God loves people. Not just any old people, not just some people but that God really does love all people.

Whether you are high festival mood, enjoying hearing Geoff blow the cobwebs out of every organ pipe, or whether you simply come to enjoy the quiet reflective space that is found here as the building is open each morning or during the Open Silence. Whether you feel high or low. Whether you know God to be close to you each day or whether you still cautiously wonder whether there might even be a God there at all. Whoever you are and wherever you come from and wherever you are going – believe this truth – God loves you and delights in you.

This glorious house of prayer is an amazing concoction of stone and wood and paint and human imagination.

Our worship is a heady mixture of music, silence, fun and wonder.

But don’t be fooled, confused or distracted. All that we do here, we do for Jesus. And all that Jesus has taught us from the very genesis of this congregation to this concert of prayer and praise tonight is that God loves us.

Before you go out of here tonight, let this thought rest in your heart – that God already loves you.

And with that thought planted firmly within you. Let us pray.

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