THE NEW BISHOP’S BIG ‘DO’ - PUNTER'S VERSION.
‘You can’t go on the 23rd - that’s only for Kenny and Tim! But everybody’s welcome on the Sunday night.’
That was how Bishop Gregor’s consecration celebrations were sold to me. So, knowing our place in the great autocracy of the Scottish Episcopal Church a few of us ventured forth to the Cathedral on Sunday 25th sacrificing a Dorothy sing off for the occasion.
We arrived half an hour early - we were in Kenny’s car - but only restricted viewing seats were available. Indeed, some were not occupied but being reserved in spite of the service leaflet’s assurance that
the Cathedral was open, inclusive and welcoming!
The clergy were all arriving clutching zipped garment bags containing their vestments. Kenny travelled in his cassock and carried his surplice and borrowed preaching scarf in a poly bag - at least itwas an M&S 5p poly bag!
When we read the programme we discovered that we were at a Diocesan Choral Evensong with the installation of the new Dean thrown in as a supporting act and, in small print at the end, the new Bishop’s first sermon to the diocese.
Memories flooded back to me of Evensong at St.Auggie’s in the fifties and sixties. It always preceded the AYPA (youth club) meetings and it was almost mandatory to attend. Failure to do so meant a nagging from the righteous so it was easier to go. Why? We had confessed to our sins at the morning service, after all, and what could we possibly have got up to on the afternoon of a Scottish Sabbath to make repeating the process so important?
I recalled my least favourite service -Morning Prayer with ‘the Te Deum is on Page 8’. Oh no - it’s not! I now fear that if I ever make it to the Pearly Gates all those Cherubim and Seraphim would confront me for quietly removing the two pages of this dreary canticle!
Meanwhile back at the Cathedral the massed choirs and robed clergy were processing up the aisle. What a crowd! But where were all the women? Oh, some were hitting the high notes in the choir but there was not a female voice raised in prayer, in reading or even officiating. No, they weren’t making the tea! This was Kelvinside - famed for ‘you’ll have had your tea’ . Just as well TBag O’Neill had declined the invitation or she wouldn’t have lasted past the introit hymn!
Maggie moaned that she knew all the music and wasn’t getting the chance to sing. Linda said she felt like a spectator and Margaret Hardie devoted her time to guessing what the hordes of clergy were up to at the back. Well, Kenny was punctuating the service booklet - can we have both our hearts? -perhaps some of the others were praying! Bishop Gregor, totally at ease in his new role showed the new Dean where to sit and we could then see him better. The sermon followed -short and to the point. He even raised a few laughs.
Well done, Gregor! He told us how the disciples, after Easter, were ‘all over the place.’ And here we were in this magnificent Cathedral with nothing and no one in the wrong place.
The Choral Evensong had been an organisational triumph and many left enthusing about this wonderful traditional service. Why then was I missing our argumentative Music Group, our predominance of women, our congregational participation and even the Partick Thistle scores?
Happily the Church survives our plethora of tastes in worship - indeed it is enhanced by them and long may this continue.
Footnote: So enthusiastic was the singing of the closing hymn that the gentleman in front of me who had been blocking my view for most of the evening sat down with aplomb and jammed my fingers between his body and the back of the pew. (Don’t ask why they were there.) But mindful of the place and occasion, I refrained from yelling out and simply beseeched him ‘please can I have my hand back?’ I needed it to write my gossip column!"