Maundy Thursday is when all the clergy in the diocese get together in the cathedral, to renew our ordination vows. We all have to wear cassock and surplice, and we process across the main road into the cathedral.
Oh dear, I am not a very dress-y, or process-y, (or even clerg-y ) sort of person … our own church is informal and untidy, and I just wear civvies, quite often not even a dog collar. If on rare occasions I do robe, then I prefer my single cassock-alb thingy, which is simple,
and not as hot as the cassock and surplice – which is NOT good news for ladies-who-flush
There we all were, in our black and white, nearly 200 of us, and me thinking rather irreverently that it’s just as well there isn’t a zebra crossing, or we might get run over … – all lining up, waiting to enter the cathedral. And so we went in, to the organ playing thunderously, and me feeling rather iffy about it all, somehow. I’m not wild about pomp and ceremony – it brings out the worst in me sometimes, makes me want to stand on a chair and sing sea shanties or something … and more seriously, I worry that it gets in the way of what’s really important, which is sharing the love of God with people… (Jesus didn’t have too much to do with processions and protocol either …) – although it can all be quite fun, on occasion.
As we walked up the aisle and peeled off to our seats on right and left, I found myself sitting behind the professed religious ie nuns, whom I know well. In fact, one of them had led us three church ministers on our ‘quiet’ morning this week, which had been a very special time. She talked to us about Jesus as the vine, then left us quietly, and we just sat there for a while, not wanting to say anything.
As I looked at them, and thought about the fact that they had given their whole lives to God, body and soul, an immense sense of privilege washed over me, that I should be worshipping with people like that.
Then we stood, and began our first hymn: hundreds of voices singing with power and sincerity:
All hail the power of Jesus’ Name,
Let angels prostrate fall …
Oh, that’s why I’m here. Hello, Lord.