Lambeth Conference – Canterbury Cathedral

The logistics of getting to the Cathedral for the Eucharist were no small thing, but it was managed most effectively with vast numbers of coaches manoeuvring through narrow Canterbury streets. The University, where we’re staying, was awash with purple, but as we lined up to process into the cathedral this changed into a sea of scarlet. To state the obvious, it was very colourful!

Canterbury Cathedral is an awesome place – majestic and beautiful. The music was wonderful and varied with the organ enhanced by a brass group, and the choir accompanied by African percussion for the setting for the Eucharist, the ‘Missa Luba’, a version of the Latin Mass based on traditional Congolese songs for the Eucharist. During the Giving of Communion, the Choir sang ‘O sacrum convivium!’ (O Sacred Banquet) with words by St Thomas Aquinas, and music by Gabriel Jackson (b.1962) which was exquisite. This was followed by ‘Loquebantur variis linguis apostolic, alleluia’ (The apostles spoke in many tongues, alleluia) by Thomas Tallis.

The liturgy used at least six languages apart from English. And a highpoint in the drama was the Gospel Procession accompanied by a dance by the Melanesian Brothers and Sisters.

The preacher was the Right Reverend Duleep de Chickera, the Bishop of Colombo, who spoke from 2 Corinthians 12.9, ‘my grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ Commenting on the Anglican Communion, he noted that, ‘The crisis is complex - it is not a crisis that can be resolved instantly. He called for self-scrutiny, for unity and diversity, and for articulating a prophetic voice. He spoke with a quiet authority and insight and I particularly appreciated his comment that inevitably the prophetic voice is boring, relentlessly boring, it has to be said again and again. And also it isn’t self-serving. A great opener – Sri Lanka has five major religions: - Bhuddism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and cricket!

We left at 9.00 a.m. and made it back for 2.00 p.m. so it was something of a marathon. And though it was nothing like my normal Sunday experience of worship (nor most people’s I guess), it was a deeply meaningful experience and one that I won’t forget.


Tyburn said…
Canterbury is not a Cathedral I'm very familiar with and certainly not one I have ever visited.

However, there is absolutely nothing, NOTHING better then a good procession with plenty of people all dressed in their garb.

I enclose for you a link to a youtube video which shows a Saint Paul's Procession

The Gospel Procession I feel is very important because its an aspect outside of really high church anglicanism that you dont find, but its highly symbolic. In the ideology of Church As Temple, the Quire signifies Heaven and the Nave signifies Earth, and what is fantastic about the Gospel Procession is that the Bible is taken out of Heaven and marched right down into the Nave to be read amoung the people. Its an open illustration of the need and the proccess of the incarnation, Christs Ministry and then the ressurection back to Heaven...this is lost on the majority of churches today...even the ones who experience it every week :(

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