Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Worship

My first Christmas in Dunedin.
As related, I visited Sydney at the beginning of November for a reunion of my class of '73.  Therefore, while happy that Air New Zealand is making a profit, unlike Qantas, I was not happy to assist it any further by flying over again so soon, espcially when it would have been a Virgin Australia flight anyway.

I was undecided whether to attend the service at St John's on Christmas Eve at 11.30pm or Christmas Morning at 9.30am. The fact that I had to be out at Glenfalloch on the peninsula before midday to have Christmas lunch with others from the 60+ club who have no family in Dunedin and I was told that the Christmas Eve service was more popular and more of my friends would be there swayed my choice.
Never again.
 I am usually in bed by 9.30pm and although I laid down at 8.30pm and set the alarm for 10.30, I felt dreadful. At the conclusion, just before 1 am, everyone naturally rushed home so having friends there was not such an advantage anyway.
However the service was choral Eucharist, traditional and Anglican.

Of course the same would have been true in St James, King Street, Sydney where I usually worship on Christmas Day with my sister.  In fact the procession, incense, choral singing would have been wonderful.

However the problem with St James is the distance.  While my sister lives much closer than I did, attending the 10 am service means catching a train slightly after 9 am and not returning home unti 12.30 pm at the earliest.  Sadly I must also admit that St James is not a friendly church.  Almost no one speaks to my sister when she goes by herself.  When I worshipped there regularly,  I only knew a few people slightly and while Fr John, the assistant priest is wonderful, I have worried my sister would stop going.

She decided this Christmas, being by herself, she would attend the local St Stephen's Willoughby.
I was keen to hear her report.
Probably 10 years ago we took our mother there one Christmas.  We could not get to the 8am "traditional service"  due to Mum's age and attended at 9.30 am
I was horrified and walked out, followed about 10 minutes later by my sister and mother.
It was not communion and I did not recognise anything of the service except the Creed. When the Rector, dressed in a lounge suit and tie asked us to put up our hands if we were saved, I left.

I wrote and complained and was informed the 8 am service was traditional.

We are not sure if the Rector is the same but my sister hoped she would experience a traditional Anglican communion at 8 am.
She tells me the service was, thankfully, from the prayer book but the priest and his assistant  were in suits but did wear clerical collars. He did not even put on a stole to celebrate communion. Grape juice was offered as well as the traditional cup.
During the sermon the priest joked that Anglicans were traditional and did not like change.
She tells me she glared at him on the way out.

I have researched and suggested she try worshipping at St John's Gordon, just 10 minutes away by train and one of the other few Anglo-catholic parishes in Sydney.

Googling the rector I find this from 2009.

"The rector of St John's Church, Gordon, Father Keith Dalby, said diaconal and lay presidency contravened the type of church services and ministry role as prescribed in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which is the ultimate standard of worship in the Anglican communion.

''By allowing for diaconal and lay presidency you collapse the office of deacon and priest into the one order so you actually effectively destroy the traditional threefold order of deacon, priest and bishop, that has been upheld way back to 110AD.''

Father Dalby does not seem to be in favour of change.  I pray my sister can find a welcoming parish there.

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