Sermon – All Saints – All Souls

I managed to resist the temptation to preach on the text, “Lazarus, Come Out!” this morning. Instead, here is what I did say:

I want to begin this morning, not with a story, but with a stained glass window.

It isn’t a window in this building. No, it is in the place where I first started in ordained ministry – the St Ninian’s Cathedral in Perth.

It is a building not unlike this one – the style is similar to the style of this one – Victorian Gothic with knobs on. And of course, it is filled with stained glass. Worshipping there, just as it is when we worship here, we are surrounded by the saints. They surround us in the windows to such an extent that we often forget that they are there. Just like here, in Perth, there are saints wherever you look.

Not long after I had been ordained, I took myself on a little walk around the cathedral and I spotted a window which interested me. It was biblical scenes. Saints of yore. In the bottom left, there was the young girl that Jesus raised from the dead. On the right there was another scene which I can’t recall right now. And at the top, there was Lazarus being called out of the tomb by Jesus – the story that I have just read. The thing that made me stop and stare at this window was not the colours. It was not the artistry. It was not the skill of the designer or particularly the theme of the window. No, what made me stop and stare was Lazarus’s moustache. [Read more…]

On visiting Perth

I enjoyed my visit to Perth on Sunday evening. Several things stuck me which are worth comment.

  • People seemed in good heart in the diocese. The mission review that Bishop David has been getting them to do seems to have got people thinking and even got some of them excited. I’ve still not seen it and wonder whether it is at a stage where it could be posted online. Other dioceses might be interested in how it has been done and what has been achieved.
  • The service was that well known rite, Four Installations and an Ordination. (The plan is that eventually, we’ll get it made into a film, with Hugh Grant as the glamorous preacher in the Cope of Glory). It struck me very noticeably that so far as I could tell, there were no ecumenical friends in the clergy procession. At state occasions like this, it has been common in recent years to see C of S and RC friends processing in together. Maybe they were sitting in other places in the church. Striking though.
  • The Cathedral looked great. Denuded of most of its pews and lit with new lighting, it looks so much better than the gloomy dark space of old. I particularly liked the long pews placed in collegial format (ie facing in) in the aisles. It helped create a wonderful sense of the gathered community.
  • The other thing which was very noticeable was the age profile of those who were gathered. There must have been about four hundred folk there, maybe more. With the exception of Tim Haynes, it was difficult to see many younger people. From where I was standing, it looked as though most of the younger people present were members of the clergy and most of them were older than me. I found myself briefly wondering what would bring in the young and eager. One of the clergy at St Ninian’s Cathedral in Perth is known to take to the stage and tap-dance from time to time. My question is, would adding a tap routine to the liturgy bring in the young folk, or would it, as I suspect, just pack the place out with even more happy pensioners?