Sunday, 15 August 2010

The "Great Space"

Four years ago we climbed to the top of the Anglican Cathedral tower - the views are stunning, and the walk past the bells very impressive - even if the steps are very hard on the calf muscles! This year they open the towers until 20.00 so you can see the views in the changing evening light. Highly recommended.

Today we attended worship and I went into the main body of the cathedral for the first time. It is quite extraordinary and I can understand why it is called the Great Space.

For a Protestant attending worship on the 15 August which is the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary it was a strange service in parts - I'm fairly sure that I sang a hymn whose theology I really don't agree with at all at the beginning! For a service in praise of Mary and where the sermon focused in part on extraordinary women honoured in the Lady Chapel it struck me very forcibly that there were no women clergy with a role at the service. More about that at a later point though.
I was challenged by the way the Cathedral sells itself or opens itself up as a space - for arts and events, as a Liverpool space. Wonderful as the space is, knowing that it was built in the 20th century it does also come across as a bit of a folly - so huge, so few people now worshipping there ... yet somehow glorious.
And I loved singing Timothy Dudley Smith's glorious Tell out my soul ... at the end of the service. I was pleased that Fred Kaan's version of the Magnificat also got quoted in the sermon.
At the end of the service as the cross was processed out and the clergy and others officiating followed the whole congregation turns to face the western door. We received the final blessing as the clergy stood in the great space in perfect abd beautiful formation, an icon of worship soemhow ... I'm not normally into such things but today in this setting it worked well. It's good to go to church on holiday.