With or without you?
My return from holidays and breaks is usually a rather risky affair as I am often greeted by a letter box bulging with post that has been rammed, together with, by now, soggy and crestfallen newspapers, through my letterbox. The next dilemma is this: do I open the letters straight away and risk losing the lowered blood pressure and serene countenance I have acquired on holiday as I open letters of complaint about some churchyard or other or read of the perceived sins of some poor clergyperson? Or, instead, do I leave the letters on my desk until the next morning when I am officially back at work, thus running the risk that I am delaying opening my notification from the Lottery that I have won millions (unlikely,as I never get a ticket) or that an unknown relative has passed away leaving me the mansion, yacht, Rolls Royce and Swiss bank account ( again, unlikely because all my known relatives were either Sheffield steelworkers or poor Irish immigrants). Inquisitiveness and misplaced greed always win the day, and I usually plough through a mound of adverts for Iceland, Tescos, unwanted missives about window replacement and, yes, the inevitable letter from ‘angry of Whaplode Drove’. Blood pressure suitably revived to just below boiling point and all memories of gentle breezes wafting off sandy shores now banished to the long distant past, I roam back, muttering, to the still packed bags and a bemused wife who wonders what on earth can have transformed me from a pacific, attentive husband and lover to the Church’s answer to the Incredible Hulk in such a short time.
Returning from a short half-term break this last weekend was different, for there hanging temptingly out of the letterbox (especially altered to accomodate the super size packages of General Synod business we bishops regularly receive) was a sheaf of sheet music. It was from my local parish priest who also organises the band for our regular celebration of the U2charist; and it was an open invite to play my trusty Fender Stratocaster guitar with them at the next event. In scenes reminiscent of the posturing of the footballing teacher played by Brian Glover in the film Kes (it’s Bobby Moore down the wing!) I immediately dug out the battered old instrument and began to re-live those heady days when I briefly played lead in a rock band. Of course I would play with them!
The U2charist, which is a marrying of traditional Eucharistic words with the music of the Irish band U2(not as daft as it sounds: just listen to the words of the ‘Yahweh’ and ‘When love comes to Town’ on YouTube- (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyzPtjIP2eo) began in York Harbour, Maine under the inspiration of the parish priest: Paige Blair (http://u2charist.blogspot.com). She wanted a meaningful and yet fun way of inspiring people about the Millennium Development Goals (see side bar) and she hit on using the music of the world ambassador for the Goals: Bono of U2. Since then, the U2charist has been performed all over the world and the first British one was celebrated right here in Lincoln over a year ago, when I was privileged to be the celebrant (the full recorded version is on the U2charist Blogspot site). Since then, we have raised enough money to employ a U2charist Animator-Liz Jackson-an ordinand to be ordained next year. She is supported by a small group of enthusiasts who each week host a cafe called Be-Attitude in St Mary le Wigford’s church, Lincoln. Together, they are doing a splendid job promoting the Millennium Development Goals and their objective of eradicating poverty and deprivation.
The next one will be held in St Mary le Wigford’s on Saturday 21st March at 6.30pm-all welcome.
And, if you look really carefully, you may just see a jaded old bishop fondling a ‘Jimi Hendrix’ Fender Stratocaster guitar: in his own mind a re-vivified, latter day Eric Clapton but to everyone else a grumpy looking middle aged man with a torn up envelope and letter in his back pocket.
See you then!