One of the privileges of having a key to church is that I often go into the building when no one else is there and it is very quiet. At Christmas time the silent church with only the light of the Christmas trees is a still and beautiful place.
This year among the usual busyness of this liturgical season quiet acts of worship have also inspired. On the Sunday before Christmas we had a service of ‘light and peace’ and at which we remembered those for whom Christmas is not an easy season. It was rather like the ‘Blue Christmas’ services found in the US. Not many came, but the careful liturgy encouraged stillness and sensitivity, and, indeed, a feeling of profound peace.
A small lunchtime community carol service gathered a small but remarkably varied people in a simple, but beautiful act of worship.
The Masses in the days before Christmas, from December 17th, when the great ‘O Antiphons’ of Advent were said, were quiet masses charged with expectancy and hope.
A few weeks ago I was talking to a priest who no longer has weekday masses, or a Sunday evening service. ‘No one comes’ he said. Contrast that with a priest who years ago told me he preferred small congregations, and added ‘a tangerine is not a failed orange.’ We need tangerines and oranges.
This year Kipling’s poem ‘Eddi’s Service’ has come to mind. Kipling’s seventh century priest only had a marsh donkey and a bullock attend his Christmas service, but it was still worthwhile. In our quiet acts of worship few may have come (and no animals) but they were special and enriching.