Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Day 37 - Still the world Passes by

Wonderful evening last night spent at St Martin's in the Fields with a friend. The plan was to have a meal and attend a concert, but it all turned into much more. On arrival in the crypt our eyes were drawn to an exhibition deeper down in the basement. A Last Supper by Lorna May Wadsworth was the painting on display, along with various others of figures which formed the characters in the main painting. This picture is a modern Christian altarpiece, produced for St George's Church, Nailsworth in Gloucestershire and will be installed later in April. Not only was the painting stunning, it was interesting, with some of the characters set around the table, not quite as they appear in traditional works of art. 'This is a hidden treasure' remarked one lady looking at the painting.

A meal was followed by a Concert for Holy Week performed by the choir Vivamus. It included Faure's Requiem, Albinoni's Adagio in G minor on the organ and Allegri's Miserere. The gloomy subject of sin and death, being recast through beautiful music and soaring voices. It was a great opportunity to sit and ponder the depths of the passion, and how it connects with the depths of the human condition.

So there we were in the middle of one of the busiest places in London, being drawn profoundly into the love and passion of Christ. The noise of sirens pierced through the melodic sounds, tube trains rumbled below - and yet the centre was stilled, at that time, in that place for a moment and the world with all its pressures and frenetic activity were just distant echoes. Yet, life went it did the first Holy still goes on today. All our church politics, our hours spent in planning, our parish minutiae are totally irrelevant to the world outside, in the same way that what was going on in St Martin's was a million miles away from what occupied the minds last night of millions of Londoners.

Holy Week for me heightens that contrast, but it also convinces me even more of the need to break through the worldliness with the prophetic other. St Martin's does that very well - all those who enter into its prayerful surroundings, find themselves confronted by sacred art, or beautiful music, being served great food in beautiful surroundings, all in the name of a loving God. Churches in our land, contain so many hidden treasures which that lady discovered, and open their doors as an extension of the welcome that Christ gives. It makes me more committed to singing the Lord's song in a strange land. Often I do not logically know why, but something deep within convinces me of it. The path of the cross is often a lonely and misunderstood journey, but for those of us called to take it, it is a path we cannot help but walk and invite others to join with us in.

As Poulenc put to music last night:
Hear, O Lord, my prayer, for you are my refuge and my succour, all-powerful Lord and I invoke Thee: let me never be confounded.

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