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Hallo again to all.

Today in our parish 13 young people were confirmed. The nave was packed with regulars, confirmands, their families, friends, and sponsors, along with whatever visitors stopped in. The joy of seeing so many new church members was electric, but we delighted especially in chatting with visitors and regulars about what the church means to them. I'm an Anglican because...We continue on our quest to better understand what it means to be Anglican, what constitutes an Anglican church, and whether or not there is anything that is intrinsically 'non-Anglican'.

A woman who sat behind us exclaimed to her sister after the processional hymn that 'great music like that is what keeps me in the church'. The hymn was St Patrick's Breastplate with some middle verses left out, and we kept to ourself any thoughts about today being the Sunday after Ascension rather than Trinity Sunday.

A university-age man a few seats to the right mentioned to his father after the service that for him it's all about the quality of the preaching. 'Sure, I can read the Bible myself, but it's great to have somebody so smart interpret it for me.'

During the actual confirmation, an excited younger sister of a confirmand dashed up towards the front with a flash camera to record the magic moment: 'Strengthen, O Lord, your servant George with your Holy Spirit; empower him <flash> for your service; and sustain him all the days of his life. Amen. <flash>.' In the parish hall after the service she told her brother George that she loved the kind of church in where it was okay to use a flash camera. We suspect that at least one person in the nave this morning thought it wasn't okay, but had the grace to keep silent about it.Music!

We rather guess that teenage Richard comes to church primarily in the hopes of seeing Elena there, hoping that perhaps this week she will return his admiring glances and talk to him for a while. Alas, she wasn't there today (final examinations coming up in the schools) so Richard sat on the floor outside the parish library reading an old magazine while he waited for his parents to finish their coffee.

Best Coffee!Vanessa attends when she is back in her home town because this is the church she was baptised and raised in and it makes her feel safe and solid. Phong attends because the stained glass reminds her of a church of her youth in Saigon. Henrietta attends because, well, she's always attended, as far back as she can remember, and she's not quite sure what else she would do on Sunday morning. Sam attends our church because he considers that he is odd-looking and notices that nobody much minds that here.

For us, the essence of the church was symbolised by the 91-year-old retired bishop who is a member of our parish and who did the actual confirmations. He is a tangible, living, incarnate link to the Apostles—and a sweet man besides. We treasure him, and wonder, at each confirmation service, if it will be his last.

Not one of the people that we asked about church—or eavesdropped on when they were talking about it—said a word about theology, politics, the filioque, ordained women, vestments, prayer book editions, or sex. Well, young Richard almost did.

We keep meaning to ask our rector why the lavabo takes place after the collection instead of just before the preparation of the elements, but we know that we'll likely never ask. He might think we want him to change.

This is an Anglican church. We know this because it has Anglicans in it. That's how we can tell.

See you next week.

Brian Reidís signature
Cynthia McFarland
cmcf@anglicansonline.org
Brian Reid
reid@anglicansonline.org


Last updated: 1 June 2003
URL: http://anglicansonline.org



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