Last month we celebrated the Queen's Diamond Jubilee - and I doubt if Mr H would have believed it. Elizabeth the First was by far the longest reigning monarch, despite some of them starting at a very young age indeed (Mary Queen of Scots just 6 days old), but she only managed 45 years.
To celebrate the Jubilee, all the churches in Salisbury worked together to put on a Big Weekend for the city. Nearly 400 volunteers went and dug gardens, cleaned houses, listened, visited, helped people move house - in nearly 100 placements across the city. These were recommended by Help the Aged, Social Services, the Council and others, and the churches did it to say to the city - you matter to God, and God loves you. On the Saturday night there was a free party for those who don’t normally get to parties - held in the Cathedral Close. On the Sunday 22 churches took part in the Big Lunch - some inviting people to shared meals, others hosting them by houses.
It was a fantastic way to honour something the Queen has said - that no-one should have lunch alone. It was also brilliant to see Christians doing what they really do best - looking after others, instead of being a holy huddle. That George Herbert would have thought such social outreach unremarkable and run of the mill only goes to show how far we have moved away from such important basics.
Neil MacGregor was the guest speaker at the annual Diocesan Clergy Conference, and the man who put on the 'Seeing Salvation' exhibition and 'The History of 100 Objects'. He reminded us that all institutions need to be true to their foundation stories, their creation myths. He was an excellent speaker, and the day is usually a treat - it's held in some posh private school, there’s sports and leisure activities, a great meal, and its a chance to relax but also be reminded that we are part of something beyond our parish. There are over 400 clergy there - so you realise that you are not alone! Such a gathering would never have happened in Herbert’s day, when I imagine there would have been a lot less clergy. The only disappointing part was the worship, where we sang 'Let all the World' to the same old dreary tune! Why can’t people sing the new stuff? (New tunes for Herbert's words are available in our book Another Music, and on the companion CD Hymns Old & New!).
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