On the first day of the week

Each July, when the General Synod meets in York, we head off on Sunday morning to the Minster for the Choral Eucharist. It is good to get off campus and to see the world beyond the Chamber and the place where we eat and the place where we sleep. But even more so, it is wonderful to have the opportunity to go into the Minster and worship there. It is a beautiful sacred space. If I’m honest it is one of my favourite English cathedrals (apart from the one I spend all my time in).

Unbelievably, it is 30 years since that terrible fire broke out in the Minster on 9 July 1984. The news of the fire and the damage it caused sent shock waves round Yorkshire and beyond. I remember it vividly – a few days before I had been ordained priest in the neighbouring cathedral at Ripon – and I can remember the feeling of shock and distress when I heard the news.

A shocking fire at the Minster

A shocking fire at the Minster

So as I step over the threshold today I will give thanks for York Minster and its beauty and the sense of holiness there. I’ll also give thanks that, on the first day of the week, the day of resurrection, as buildings can rise to new glory so will we. The building for me is a witness to resurrection hope.

But if the Minster is a sign to us of that so must the church be. The agenda for today in the General Synod has a church focus. We will begin with new baptismal texts. Baptism is, after all, the sacrament of entry into the body of Christ, the church. The remainder of the day looks at the inner workings of the church, through the Archbishops’ Council, the Church Commissioners, through the way we use our money and spend it on mission and ministry. And, as we focus for a time on finances we will look at the way in which the church can suport credit unions and so give hope to those caught up in destructive cycles of debt.

'On the first day of the week ...'

‘On the first day of the week …’

But all of this, on this Sunday, when we proclaim Christ risen, must be in that greater context of the resurrection. If it can happen to buildings it will happen to us.

Risen Lord,
as on the first day of the week
you met Mary in the garden
so meet us in the places
where we will be.
Speak our name,
thrill our hearts
and send us
to proclaim you risen.
Amen.

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