We’ve had a wonderful day of celebrating and worshipping together with the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. The Eucharistic service was a “mass” in many ways…thousands (7000??) of people from all across this island, bishops and archbishops galore, a mass choir, steel band/organ/piano accompaniment, huge fragrant flowers, servers in white albs, and government and civic officials. And we were paraded in behind banners carried by attentive servers naming the Province from which we came. The Olympics will have nothing on us!
What is to be remembered, though, is the joy and delight of a fully Caribbean service…the West Indian liturgy, a reggae setting for the music of the mass, hymns that rocked, commissioned hymns for the occasion, and even Bob Marley songs that the assembled group sang with total abandon. The passing of the peace was as vibrant and open as I have ever seen it, helped along by Marley’s One Love. (So much for the advice from my good nursing friends who, in the face of a flu epidemic, suggested no handshakes, no hugs!) This was no stodgy Anglican event at all, with the whole assembly gently swaying almost without being conscious of it. The sharpness of the intercessions included strong sections like:
We pray for men and women in their daily lives:
For those who do too little and expect too much,
For those who earn too little and work too much,
For those who want to work and cannot.
The Archbishop’s sermon was also compelling, calling us all to serve others so that our church, our world, would not leave anyone in need. And the Bishop of Jamaica and the Caymen Islands, Alfred Reid, whom I met years ago at a Partners in Mission consultation, must have been overjoyed as he looked over the congregation during the Great Thanksgiving.
I always enjoy a liturgy in another land…we Anglicans always have the same form, the same general components within a Eucharist, enough to make us feel at home wherever we are. But in another culture, there are slight differences in wording or emphasis that sharpen my understanding of what is really going on. Some phrases that I noted today with pleasure were “In every age your steadfast love/Has called us to return,/To live in union with you” and “And by the power of the Holy Spirit/ You have gathered a people to yourself/To make known in every place/His perfect offering…”
A full day it would have been with just this service to feed us, but there is more. I’ve just come back from a kind of “market” that showed off the various Anglican Networks’ work. Some of the networks are well known, (Peace and Justice, Women’s, Indigenous Peoples), but there are others that drew my attention as well. I think many of us in parishes in Canada would benefit from connecting with networks on topics that give our specific ministry passion. It seems to me that it is one way for our prophets in environmental issues, in education, in family issues, to feel less alone. I’ll have to think of ways that the word can be spread to people in parishes that have not known of their colleagues in other parts of the world.
But not right now. Am off to put my feet up before dinner and perhaps catch a wee bit of shut-eye. This was really a day “that the Lord hath made!”