Continuing Home

The ongoing saga of a Continuing Anglican church home, as seen by a member of the laity.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Return to St. Thomas'

The major portion of my business done on this trip, with only a late-morning seminar, I was able to return to St. Thomas 5th Avenue this morning for Morning Prayer and Holy Eucharist at 8 AM. The doors to the central aisle in the Nave were closed with signs directing entrants to side aisles with no clear indication where Morning Prayer was to be held, but there was a note about the Chancel Chapel, and once I had got over the confusion of seeing someone sitting in the main Nave (in retrospect I think he was the sexton), I figured out that the Gospel-side Chapel with its lit candles and other indicators of an Eucharist about to be conducted was where I should be.

Soon enough a priest (younger than Fr. Daniel, I think, but I could be wrong) entered for some final preparations. I got the impression he was surprised to see a stranger there (or maybe to see anyone there, though I was soon disabused of that when a couple of others showed up, a wee bit late but apparently regulars).

For the first bit of it, when it was just the priest (and I am sorry, I have always been terribly forgetful of names) and me there, I have to wonder how the service goes when the priest has to read the responses himself. Maybe this is part of why Fr. Daniel is happy to have more than "the squirrels" in attendance.

For my part it was sheer delight to celebrate Communion among total strangers who also recite this (1928 BCP) liturgy from memory, who apparently hold this liturgy in their heart. It meant nothing to me when I grew up with it, but after losing it for 15 years and then re-discovering it at St. Bartholomew's, an isolated island a long way from the next nearest such church, I guess I have become sensitive to the issue.

There is a double irony that St. Thomas (and [P]ECUSA?) is this week celebrating / honoring / praying-for "Unity." Unity. There are a whole bunch of issues bound up with that, entirely outside the scope of this blog, so I will say nothing beyond my expression of delight.

I had with me the worst of my cameras for dim light situations, so here's the best of the Chapel. It is beautiful.

Later I was free again to visit St. Thomas for "Choral Evensong and Holy Eucharist." Both were a surprise. "Choral Evensong" was almost more a concert, and with exquisitely-executed music including the organ.

Disappointing to me that most present departed before (the abbreviated) Holy Eucharist began, but... one never knows. The music is only the surface -- call it evangelism of a sort. Even if they're only there for the music and pageantry, they're hearing the Word.

It's my hope to return tomorrow morning for one last visit before I return home to my humble little parish.


  • At 8:55 AM, Blogger Death Bredon said…

    We have similar impressions of St. Thomas's. While its a wonderful Shrine Church for Prayer-Book Catholicism, sometimes its a bit more of a concert than participatory worship.

    I have a link to their "streaming" audios of their serives on my website.


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