What a night!

My goodness, what a fabulous evening we had here for last night’s Michaelmas revels. We had received 30 or so positive replies from people saying that they were coming and guessed that 50 folk would come. I gave instructions that 80 service sheets should be printed and 80 hosts put in the ciborium just in case the unlikely happened and extra people turned up. In the end, the turnout was about 100.

When David Chillingworth preached at my Installation here, he said that he had asked the people in Bridge of Allan (my last congregation) what they would remember about my ministry. The response he had been given was that whatever else Kelvin got up to, at least he knew how to throw a good party.

At the time, I think that some people here in Glasgow (ie the choir) thought that this meant the advent of many invitations to Praepostorial Towers to drink party the night away. In fact, what Bishop David was referring to was my love for making something out of the religious feasts and festivals that colour the calendar. Last night was a good example of that.

The choir sang a Mozart Mass magnificently. Angels and Dragons kept appearing in unlikely places in the liturgy. (Yes Geoff, I did hear Puff the Magic Dragon being quoted whilst you were playing the organ for communion). Lots of people turned up who help in the welcome ministry at St Mary’s and lots of people turned up who’ve been welcomed to the congregation in the last year. Cedric, the Vice Provost was in the thick of it all, and of course, he counts in both categories. I forsee that with his anniversary here coming up in a couple of months, he is soon to stop being regarded as the New Vice-Provost.

In the end, it was very clear that light conquors darkness. My very greatful thanks to everyone who worked on this service and made the feast so glorious.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle…

Today is Michaelmas – the day we read the story from Revelation of the Archangel Michael beating up the beast.

And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Oddly, I rather like the feast. It is a day for thinking about dragons and angels, and of course, a rather butch, military Michael with all the host of heaven sweeping in to put all things right.

I grew up surrounded with military metaphors for religion and by and large I laid them aside and left them be. In the Salvation Army there are few things that don’t have military imagery attached to them and it leads to a peculiar and, if you think about it, slightly troubling mindset. Plenty of people get very excited about the idea of jihad, holy war in Islam after all. Yet for most Muslims it doesn’t seem to be very far away from the religious language I grew up with.

I managed to rescue just a little of that spirit a number of years ago. A friend’s son had a terrible car accident and was fighting for his life. At the time I was attached to St Michael and All Saints church in Edinburgh. I remember on the Feast itself looking at a statue of Michael about to slay the dragon and realising that there wasn’t at that moment a better visual representation for how I wanted to pray.

Young man in question lived.

Yet whether we live or die, the faith I profess insists, sometimes against all credible evidence, that goodness is stronger than evil.

Worth making a fuss about, is that kind of sentiment and that is part of the reason I like to keep the feast.

The other part is that in a world where half the population believes in guardian angels and the other half is reading Harry Potter, a feast day with both Angels and Dragons just can’t be anything other than a mission opportunity.

Want to know why your young people don’t come to church. Maybe it is because adults don’t get excited enough about feast days like this one.