In a charming short essay in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy the influential Catholic priest and theologian Romano Guardini talks of the Playfulness of the Liturgy. While acknowledging the importance and solemnity of worship Guardini also encourages us to see in the movement, the different roles, the absorption of the people in their activity, a form of play. He compares people at worship before God to children at play making sandcastles as their loving parents look on. The play, the enjoyment, the concentration are all important to us as humans.
The Liturgy, the gathering of Church, is also strongly counter cultural. In a world which is often always striving to meet targets, to be useful, attacking something, the catholic tradition of our church can call us to learn (in Guardini’s words) “to play the divinely ordained game of the liturgy in liberty and beauty and holy joy before God.”
On Epiphany Sunday evening we “worshiped together in the beauty of holiness” with a lovely service of Benediction complete with lovely singing by Fliss and Paul, colour, lots of candles, silences, fine words from Revd Penny King and, of course – it is after all St Chrysostom’s – lots of incense. Rosa Mystica was the blend of the day!
Then afterwards we had a little party and here others contributed also to the ‘play’ – there was much laughter, singing, a fun quiz and fantastic cakes. Mark, using a recipe Valerie had given him baked an amazing Galette des Rois aux Armandes (Three King’s Cake for Epiphany, a recipe is here.)
There was a great sense of fun, and yes playfulness, as together we celebrated Epiphany. Fr Guardini would, I’m sure, have been impressed and lets hope as we were smiling God was too!