From outside looking in
Have you ever stood on the warm sand on a summer’s day (normal summer!) and surveyed the sea? Here I’m describing the North Sea, not some strange or foreign ocean. The sea looks inviting, glinting in the sunlight, but you’re aware of its power, a strength. Perhaps you’re brave and tip your toe in, then your whole foot. The incoming tide swamps your foot, then sucks as it retreats: little eddies swirl around, and you’re conscious of the under-currents and tows. The sea looks inviting, on the one hand, but it’s also overwhelming, intimidating, even rather frightening. Well, that’s how I feel about St Peter’s. (Note I write St Peter’s, not St Peter’s Church, as I read that even that familiar word has new shades of meanings and nuances!)
The warm sand represents the 8.00am. service at St Peter’s, using the Book of Common Prayer. The service is familiar - the language is beautiful. Although Henry VIII caused rather a large hiccough, the service still dates back hundreds of years, with, I believe, strong connections to the Latin service which preceded it. There is therefore the added bonus of the feeling of continuity, of being one with the people who worshipped in the past, bringing their problems as we do today. Just as a Shakespearian play gives an added bonus with its richness of language, so does the 8.00am. service. It’s a quiet service, where privacy is respected; this is not to say there is no friendly welcome. You would have to don Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility to pass Joyce Savage, without a welcome, or the officiating clergy!
To continue the comparison, the sea is the rest of the life at St Peter’s - the all powerful, all impressive, the all vigorous and energetic. It addresses the demands of being a city centre church and bringing life to the community. It is aware of the peculiar needs of life in the twenty first century. What it achieves is impressive, but it’s rather overwhelming.
From an outsider, looking in, there is so much happening, and the scale is so large! There are two churches, numerous clergy (and soon I read there will be one more). There’s an “Angela-in-the-office”, whom I’m sure is a lovely lady, but sounds like an all powerful hydra-headed monster! There are so many worthy activities taking place. As I now have more time, which should I support, or should I be an independent spirit and find something worthwhile outside St Peter’s to do?
I won’t add my name to this article, if you don’t mind. If I take the plunge I’ll introduce myself, if not it doesn’t matter, as you won’t know me!