What’s the point of being a Christian
What’s the point of being a Christian
Sad fact that though this song came out in 1976 nothing has changed.
I’ve been spending time in another church. Not on Sundays, this is for choir rehearsal. Where we usually rehearse has been double booked and All Saints in Kingston offered us their church.
I sing with a community choir. Our songs range from folk, world, pop and…just about anything and this December we have four performances (though I’m doing just the three). We have sung in All Saints before in the past – concerts as well as rehearsals – but this time we are there for some weeks. It is an old church, so old that the first King of England was crowned there, well at least on that site. Now needing a lot of work it is due to be cleaned, an extra entrance added along with new buildings and extra toilets (hurray!). Being right in the centre of Kingston it will become the hub of the town.
I have a long association with the church as my parents sang here when they were members of a choral society and my brother and I were dragged along to concerts but we always loved the Christmas concerts. We also used to come some Sunday mornings with them but all I did was long for the end of the service!
Now I am back admiring this church. It truly is beautiful. This morning the sun was pouring in through the stained glass windows and with the poppy displays still there and the red banners the building felt warm and cosy. As part of our main concert in Kingston’s Rose Theatre (Charity concert) we will sing four Christmas carols – some with the audience and some on our own. What a fitting place to rehearse these, our voices swelling and filling this beautiful place.
When not singing and our musical director was working with the altos, tenors and bases, I sat taking in the wonderful colours of the windows and also the architecture. I am learning some basics of Art History via correspondence course and have been reading about columns, flying buttresses (this doesn’t have any but I think there is a groined vault!) and arches. Rehearsing in All Saints feels good and though it can get difficult with so many of us (nearing 100 on a good day) I do love the atmosphere. We have a succession of different ‘audiences’ from the homeless to tourists, shoppers popping in for coffee and to buy charity Christmas cards, and today we had a small flock of students who clapped!
One of our members told me that a lady came over to her this morning and said that she had not long lost her husband and listening to us was a great comfort. Wow! We can’t do that in the places where we normally rehearse. Here we really are a community choir!
(Do have a look at the website of All Saints including some videos on the tab Where it all Began)
Escaped for a quiet day today. I went along to the London Centre for Spirituality which was given over to this small group of people who’d come together to spend the time how we wanted. The Centre based in the church of St Edmund the King where there is a bookshop with both new and second hand books. We were able to buy books, eat our lunch in the choir stalls or in the small garden (they supplied tea, coffee and biscuits) and as well as one other room downstairs there were two library rooms upstairs which were for silent reading.
After the quick introduction we all went off to do our own thing. I had taken along a book On Holiday with God by Sue Pickering and I chose the resource ‘Waiting – learning to be still’. I felt I needed that! After a coffee I began with that, finding a nice comfy seat in the bookshop. There was lovely music wafting throughout the day. I find music relaxes me but even so I found my mind wandering. I think another time I would spend some time relaxing before starting the exercise. However, I gradually slowed down and the exercise took me about an hour. There were some words which made me think, especially considering the doubts that have plagued me this past year…….’if God has not already touched your heart, you would not be reading this book.’ That told me! I loved the descriptions of where God was meeting me through ‘God-incidences’ and that God is waiting for me now like a lover at a railway station – with passion.’ I found this part of the reading exercise quite moving.
After I had finished the exercise I had a wander around the bookshop mentally working out what I’d like to buy! I had taken a flask of soup and pitta bread and headed outside to the little garden to eat. It was sheltered and with my jacket on it was fine – blue skies and a a few white clouds. I came back in made a cup of tea and sat watching Mary, a ceramic artist who was working there for the day. She had brought along some of her work and invited anyone to have a go. My creativity doesn’t extend to working with clay, I’m afraid, so I was happy to watch. I then headed upstairs and had a look through some of the books – I found a poetry book Patrick Purnell SJ with a nice poem entitled Distractions!
Finally I returned downstairs to make my purchases! I bought two second hand books, one is about the Wesley Brothers and the other on Hilda (Celtic Abbess of Whitby). I also bought two small books for Advent, a CD by Margaret Rizza and a pack of Christmas cards. There was time to relax a little more (I began the book on the Wesley’s) and then it was back into the world outside and the crush of the tube station. I managed to switch off by reading.
There is another quiet day in February next year and its completely free to attend. There are lovely stained glass windows in the church and it is nice and peaceful to just sit there listening to the music, letting it wash over you. I was wondering what I would do for five hours but it passed by easily enough and I was glad I’d made the effort to drag myself out early on a Saturday morning to trek up to London. It was nice to escape the world for a bit and open my mind and try and make myself available for God.