Worship and buying milk

Mar 23rd, 2008 | By | Category: Ministry

Tesco was shut at 7.00 this morning. The 24/7 store was very firmly closed, the steel shutters were down.

But of course Tesco was shut. It’s 7.00 on Easter morning in Ireland and there was one other car on the dual carriageway. The shop is about making profit, not about being open on the of chance that someone might have realized that they had run out of milk.

The consumerist ethic runs through everything, even church services. We think that things are there for us.

I heard a story recently about a woman who attended choral evensong in an English cathedral with a clerical friend. Evensong is a medieval service, usually sung in the mid to late afternoon. The woman complained to her companion that the service had not done much for her because she had not been able to participate. He looked at her, “But my dear, it is not there for you”.

I remember going to Carlisle Cathedral on 22nd June 2006, the twentieth anniversary of my ordination. There was a beautiful evensong sung by gentlemen of the choir, voices capturing centuries of tradition. There were a handful of clergy and some lay people associated with the cathedral, but I appeared to the the only ordinary member of the public.

Evensong for one? Of course not, it was there whether I was there or not. It was sung as part of the daily prayers of the cathedral, it was not there as a consumer commodity.

Walking up Killiney Hill at 6.15 this morning (which was how I happened to be going to Tesco at 7.00), I pondered what the gathering was about. The car thermometer at the bottom of the hill showed just two degrees; at the top of the hill, looking out over the Irish Sea, there was a biting wind. Despite the early start and the bitter cold, there were still around two hundred people on the hilltop. It wasn’t for us, it wasn’t about whether we felt cold or tired. It was about worship, not individual convenience, just as Tesco is about profit and not individual convenience. If two things coincide, all well and good, but let’s not forget what the priority is.

I got the milk at the convenience store in the village – at a price somewhat higher than that in Tesco, but without them focusing on their first object of making a profit, there would be no convenience store. Similarly, if the church fails to focus on its first object of worshipping God, there will be no church.

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  1. Ian

    Even God rested on the seventh day, You do so tomorrow. By order of Grannymar!

  2. Good on the convenience store, unfortunately it probably had to open on Easter Sunday to make a profit due to Tesco undercutting everything it sells. Tesco will eventually drive it under as it has done over here riding rough shod over everything and everybody in its drive to rule the consumer world. I hope it doesn’t start on religion!!!HAPPY EASTER.

  3. Excuse the use of Roman Script:

    Christos Anesti!
    Alithos Anesti!

    Happy Easter.

  4. Ian – HAPPY EASTER!

    and congrats on your television performance this morning.

    Thanks to the incorrect scheduling of RTE/Irish Times, I only got to see the last ten minutes of the service but as they say in Tesco…

    “Every little helps” 😀

  5. Grannymar,

    I’m taking tomorrow off, but am back to work this week because I’m taking five Sundays off in the summer.


    Needless to say the man working at 7.00 on a Sunday morning was Chinese.


    Isn’t that English script, just like we have English numbers?


    I don’t know why they got the time confused, right from the start the broadcast was to be the 45 minutes prior to the Pope.


    Shouldn’t you be getting ready for the evening service?


    Yes, I should

  6. Ian, the TV schedule said 10.05 and when I sat down to watch, an ‘Easter tale’ was broadcast. I checked back 5 mins later and still no service. It was only by chance that I remembered to look again at 10.45 and luckily, was just in time for the bread and wine!

    I guess you’ll be exhausted by the time this long day is out. At least it didn’t rain this morning – the Pope was nearly washed away in Rome!

  7. Well it’s definitely not Greek.

  8. Ian
    Is there anywhere that I can acces the service?

  9. Me too, I’d like to see it. Happy Easter rev.

  10. RTE don’t provide playback facilities on their website for religious programmes.

    The Roman Catholic Church does not allow prerecording of Mass, it must always be live, so they would not allow any of their services on the site and we are such a small minority that there would be little interest in ours being on the website

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