Christmas – Holy Innocents Sunday (First Sunday after Christmas)
Dad & Mom wanted to see the nativity scene at St John’s Anglican Cathedral (St. John’s) so I decided to give them a tour of the place before I buggered off to Melbourne on Wednesday for NCYC (those of you who are wanting to see it, it will be available for viewing until January 11 2009). The media release from the Diocese of Brisbane about the nativity scene is found here. So we missed church at CMCA-EMP today, but I drove them both into the city for the 9:30am Choral Eucharist at St. John’s.
Caught up with an old work colleague, Alan, once we arrived at about 9am and had a geeze at the scene itself. It’s beautiful to say the least. The Cathedral today was at her full splendor with all the lights on. Here’s some photos I snapped with my camera-phone. There’s only so much that a 3.2MP sensor on a Sony Ericsson K800i can do so apologies for not exactly top quality pictures. There’s been some slight “photoshopping” as well to give you the pics as good as I can get them.
The only thing missing from the scene were some shepherds. Spoke briefly with Rev’d Moses after the service was over and seems like there have been a few requests from people requesting some extra animals (like a cow and a sheep) though some shepherds would definitely help to complete the picture.
The service was of the high standards I expect from a cathedral church. Though it was a bit sad with the Cathedral Choir being on recess. The organ was in full force, though at times a bit too slowly. But full force, especially in the last verse of TiS 293 “Unto us a boy is born!” (or HUP 124 in the CMCA – EMP hymnbook) where the extra flourishes really did help the last verse impact on us before we were dismissed:
Omega and Alpha he! / Let the organ thunder, / while the choir with peals of glee / now rends the air asunder.
But “Puer Nobis” the tune (unlike “Puer Nobis Nascitur”) when it slows down becomes a pain to sing especially in the last line. Did quite enjoy the organ and us singing “Good Christian Men, Rejoice” for the Gradual hymn.
Those at EMP would probably have found the sermon to be too “lacking” given that Fr. Peter didn’t give a verse by verse exposition of Matthew 2:13-18. But how can one give an exposition of these words in the Gospel after such a festive time as Christmas? Just three days after the joy of Christmas, Holy Innocents (Sun-)Day is a stab in the guts for those of us who follow the liturgical year. But when looked at in conjunction with the other three readings of the day (Jeremiah 31:15-20, Ps 124 and 1 John 1:5-2:2), things make more holistic sense.
The death of the Holy Innocents is an affront to us and to God for Herod had a choice to worship the true and living God or to not. Unlike the Magi (Huey, Dewey and Lewy in my books), he made the wrong choice. And it had consequences not only for Herod, but for our Lord and all those babies and young children who were slaughtered on that day (tradition says it was 2000 babes and young children) along with their fathers, mothers and grandparents. But in those innocent deaths, there was a foreshadowing of another innocent death that was to come. And that innocent death would show that good can come out of utter evil.
It was rather appropriate that on this day where we remember the precious lives that were lost all those years ago, there were three infant baptisms and one adult baptism. The last few weeks according to the service notes have seen a number of other baptisms as well which is a good thing. Now, I just hope and pray that those parents who brought their infants for baptism keep coming to church week-in, week-out and make good on the vows they made before the priests, the congregation and God at the presentation of their children for baptism.
Liturgy of the Eucharist was a sung one. Fr. Peter intoned the Eucharistic Prayer until the Sanctus before continuing on from the epiclesis in regular speech. The vestments worn today were beautiful. Two white dalmatics for the deacons (it is the season of Christmas) while Fr. Peter had on a white gothic chasuble as the presiding priest over today’s liturgy. Rev’d Moses and Rev’d Canon Crothers-Robertson were clad in albs like the other altar servers. And I noticed that an assisting bishop or two were in the congregation this morning in regular clothes too.
I left the service truly thinking over what it means for all those mothers in the world who have lost children or who are losing children as we speak. Either through their own choice (by abortion), by others taking them away from them (by accident or deliberately, like the Holy Innocents) or simply because their children were asked back by God after being on this earth for a little while (like the case of my own brother who was only around in the arms of my mother for a couple of days, if not a week, before God called him back home).
The Collect for Holy Innocents Sunday
God of the dispossessed,
defender of the helpless,
you grieve with all the women who weep
because their cihldren are no more:
may we also refuse to be comforted
until the violence of the strong has been confounded,
and the broken victims have been set free;
in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
May God give us all grace to follow the Holy Innocents and all the saints in faith, hope and love. Amen.
+ bf 1500hrs