This is the 500th blog that I have written to appear on this website, and as nearly all are over 400 words in length, that amounts to a total for between two hundred thousand and a quarter of a million words. As Helen says, “The congratulations go to anyone who has read them all.” If there is a theme to this blog today it is that of recognising when things catch up with you, as I think writing routinely, as a lot of clergy do, reaches a point that one carries on regardless of anything else. A great mistake….
Today, at Morning Prayer, we read the beginning of Romans chapter 12. This chapter forms the first three “Sundays after Epiphany” Epistles from the Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion, “Collects Epistles and Gospels to be used throughout the Year”. Those brought up on this book without the intrusion of services arising out of the liturgical revision of the sixties and seventies, of which my generation is the last, will ever connect this chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans with that post Christmas and Epiphany period. It is a great chapter. Its words roll of the tongue and it sums up so much of what we are measuring up to as Christians, and so can be read in the way I suggest today: as a recognition and reminder of what routine can dull.
Helen and I have been watching the Cardiff Singer of the World competition, which was broadcast by the BBC last week. I will not mention the outcome in case anyone is in the midst of watching the programmes on catch-up and haven’t reached the final yet, but if you are interested in singing at all, and particularly in operatic singing then they really are a must-hear series of broadcasts. Singing to an empty auditorium, except for an orchestra and a panel of expert judges, the contestants produced some truly wonderful performances. Again one feels the reminder of what the pandemic has robbed us, in the past months, in terms of live artistic expression.
Naturally both good and bad things can catch up with us - as we say - and it is good to have some experiences dulled by routine and distance, but re-reading Romans 12 for the umpteenth time and listening to live music being performed by wonderful young singers has a very positive effect in their own way and for very particular reasons. As I start into the next few blogs I shall try to bear these things in mind and look forward to casting fresh eyes upon, and listening with renewed interest to, the wonders that are all around.