A number of comments and experiences are connecting for me with Cathedral music. Transforming and spiritual, the mood and atmosphere set in Cathedral buildings can be overwhelming. A recent concert in Chichester with poetry and artwork along with Messaien’s music was such a transporting event. Simply attending the Cathedral services with traditional or modern settings of harmony and the immense reverberation of the organ in a huge space – an experience you would wish to be often repeated. But what happens when we try to transport Cathedral music into smaller churches? So much controversy about inaccessibility, exclusivity. The age-old argument between excellence and social inclusion. We did not decorate our Cathedrals with amateur stonework or transitory popular works of art, so why not keep precious hold of the great works of Howells, Stanford and the like – a blessing in the English church.

a view of Chichester cathedral

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More and more talk of getting churches working together – today the news of Methodists and Anglicans healing a rift – a slow moving together process. Of course there should only be one Christian church. But we are many people and have our habits and our preferences when it comes to things spiritual and religious.

Should a broad consensus of need to move together be held up by a small group of parishioners? I guess the answer may be – only when they can put forward a good theological argument for their perspective. Not if the argument is simply based on habit. So sometimes there is a duty to lead – from the clergy involved, from the diocese, from all the people of God in a region.

Interesting talk today about comparing the move towards ecumenical worship in the Churches Together model to the Houses of Parliament. A fraternity of clergy who need to develop relationships and trust, and a CT forum which needs to do the same but have as much a role as the fraternity. The latter has legitimate power through ordination. The forum however is the ground swell which will take us towards unity. Two Houses. not quite clergy and laity because clergy are very visible in the forum. A need to learn new (or good old) ways of working together. Not getting bound up with where ideas come from, getting more focussed on which ideas can take us towards a common purpose.

So what then is the meaning of parish? Do we stay within our parish boundaries as an established church of the land and stop at the boundaries? Especially when there are sister churches so close by that are equally sparsely attended but contain like-minded people of God? And to what extent can we represent a parish when we are one of many Christina churches in that area? How can we speak for them except by legitimate establishment – not really by popularity or democracy or representation?

We all know in our hearts we need to work and pray together. For what@ for our own and others spiritual jouneys. For those neglected by society. For those who don’t have any other voice. But does that mean more meetings? probably – but not official meetings, more joint worsh9p, more prayer together. Could we have prayer groups which involved all our local churches? Doubtless different styles of prayer would irritate some, but it is already happening across Christian religions in Heathfield in the prayer group supporting the Street Pastors there.

so it is possible to do more of this? to get people together in or out of our churches. More prayer needed. Always more prayer needed.