We’ve a feast on our hands

Corpus 7

We’ve a feast on our hands today at St Mary’s. Today is a day set apart in the calendar of our church on which Christians may give especial thanks for the institution of Holy Communion. It is the very last of the festivals whose date changes according to Easter. Because Easter was early this year, so today, Corpus Christi is earlier than it often is too.

Corpus Christi is related to Holy Week in another way too. The day on which Communion was instituted in the church is Maundy Thursday. That’s when we remember the Last Supper in the Upper Room. The Last Supper is perhaps confusingly the First Communion.  (Or at least it is if you discount the other eucharistic meals in the gospels where Jesus breaks bread and shares it, such as the feeding of the five thousand). Maundy Thursday though is a day when we’ve got so much to think about and so much going on that we tend not to think about the supper itself. We get so quickly caught up in the story of Jesus’s arrest in the garden, trial and crucifixion the next day that we don’t have much time to ponder, or indeed, celebrate, the meal itself.

Hence, Corpus Christi. We get the chance today to rejoice in the meal.

I used to go across to celebrate Corpus Christi in Edinburgh with Fr Kevin Pearson. Sometimes we would make it a trip for servers and other hangers on. Indeed, on one ocassion, Fr Kevin invited me to preach. When Fr Kevin became Bishop Kevin a couple of years ago, I decided to have a go a reviving the feast in the west and started to celebrate it in Glasgow. And today, I’ve asked Bishop Kevin to come and preach at it.

It is a fairly complicated, wizz-bang kind of liturgy with much to think about. However, the essential ideas are easy to grasp. Firstly that God is really present when the Eucharist is celebrated. Secondly that God comes amongst God’s people and walks with them. Thirdly that it is OK to be joyful and happy. Indeed, joy is at the core of what we do.

So, Corpus Christi.  A sermon from Bishop Kevin. Flower scattered (no, strewn!) before the Lord of Heaven and Earth. The glorious Vierne Messe Solonnelle from the choir. And joy for everyone.

Kick off 7.30 pm. All welcome.

[There’s a facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/467625339986048/ if you want to invite facebook friends)

Exciting Day for the Scottish Episcopal Church

It is an exciting day for the Scottish Episcopal Church and no mistake – a new bishop has been elected. Fr Kevin Pearson of St Michael and All Saints in Edinburgh has been elected as the new bishop of Argyll and The Isles, a huge diocese which goes from the Mull of Kintyre right up to Stornoway.

This was an interesting election. The first attempts to choose a bishop did not produce a name and the election processes determine that the right of election passes to the College of Bishops if the diocesan process does not produce a result. Accordingly, it has been the responsibility of the other Scottish bishops to devise a process which would lead to an election. They met today in the Diocese at the College of The Isles on Greater Cumbrae and elected Fr Kevin unanimously.

Fr Kevin is someone I’ve known for a long time – since I first asked to be considered for ordination. He has held the post of Provincial Director of Ordinands for a long time and a great many people have been interviewed by him over the years with a view to discerning vocations. I don’t know whether things have changed, but in those days, he took no prisoners when interviewing people and I can still remember the experience vividly. It wasn’t the nicest hour of my life by any means and led me to a pretty negative view of him for a while. [Well, that’s a euphemism. I couldn’t bear the thought of him].

When I was eventually an ordinand I elected to do a placement with him at St Michael and All Saints partly by way of exorcising a demon and trying to find out why other people thought him to be a good thing. It worked. Whilst I was there I encountered someone in whom shone as much wisdom as humour and who has a passion for the Episcopal Church and a pastoral heart to match. By the time I’d finished my placement, someone whom I’d found, well, tricky, was someone of whom I was very fond indeed. I’m delighted for him today and hope that this new role in the church will be an opportunity for so very many more people to get to know the warm, generous side of him that he sometimes managed to disguise (rather successfully) when interviewing.

Its a huge responsibility being a bishop of anywhere and Argyll and The Isles has all kinds of challenges, not least of geography. My congratulations go to Bishop Elect Kevin. Oh, and before you are done, check out a gorgeous pic of him on the Provincial website.

A bit of extra wisdom and glamour for the College of Bishops. What more could we want?