Friday, 9 July 2010

All on a Summer's Evening

Christchurch Priory was lovely in the late evening sun. It is one of the most beautiful churches in England, and there we baptized four and confirmed twenty candidates. I spoke about the New Testament as the Last Will and Testament of Jesus. His dying wish (having nothing else to give) was that we would give thanks over bread and wine and so become his Body. But his parting wish, after the Resurrection, was that we should baptize people everywhere. So tonight we were fulfilling the express commands of his will.

There were children and several older candidates, from the Priory Church (Holy Trinity) and its daughter church, St George's. Here they are by the West door, together with Fr Darryl and Fr Graham, assistant priests. The Churchwarden told me he is involved in the appointment of a new Vicar for the parish, and that the interviews are very soon. They need our prayers. They have taken none of the Resolutions, so it is a very likely launch-pad for some future female vicar to make her mark and be in line for a mitre. In which case tonight's very happy occasion will have been my last in that lovely place.

I never go to Christchurch without giving a thought to Margaret Countess of Salisbury. There is the grandest of late-mediaeval/Renaissance tombs prepared for her; but never occupied. Henry VIII was so angered (and threatened) by her - her family was close to throne by birth - that when he had her executed at the tower he refused to allow her burial in her own tomb. It is said that the doughty septuagenarian, mother of Cardinal Pole, refused to kneel for the axeman, so her head was hacked from her body as she stood... And we think Synod makes life difficult!

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