As it turned out today there wasn't much time for sightseeing! These few damp shots were taken when I made a quick dash out to a "hole in the wall" to get some cash. The street decorations for Christmas are simply magnificent and, if the weather clears in the next few days, I'll go back for sunny shots.
These magnificent glass discs hang across the street and are huge! They're also among the most tasteful town decorations that I have ever seen.
I didn't have time to walk along the street and take pictures of each one ... and it was a wee bit wet to do so anyhow.
Why the rush? Well, I didn't know that there was a one-day conference at Cranmer Hall until chatting to Gail at breakfast. She's going to be instituted into her first parish (group of parishes) on Tuesday and had come for the day.
As the subject was "Preaching Matthew's Gospel" I decided to ask if it might be possible to join the very large crowd and so ended up with some excellent teaching and an armful of books - for which I needed the cash - hence the lunch time dash to the bank!
Stephen Barton opened the day with a detailed overview of the Gospel. How much easier it is to understand the little bits when you can see the pattern that Matthew used to tell the story. I can see me making reference to Stephen's lecture in my own preparation during the next liturgical year.
David Day then spoke about reading Matthew faithfully, responsibly and comprehensively. His lecture was illustrated with both worst practice and best as he highlighted the pitfalls to avoid in sermon preparation and delivery.
Kate Bruce completed the morning lectures as she took us through Matthew 6:1-18 which is inexplicably omitted from the lectionary readings! Her brief was to help us to move from text to sermon through addressing some key questions as we prepare from the text.
My lunchtime trip took me past Durham Cathedral and I can't do that without stopping for a photograph or two! Even in the rain it looks magnificent.
And it is only a stone's throw from Saint John's. The main door to the warren of houses is in the background of this picture just beyond the whiter building and the cathedral entrance is on the right as you look into this photograph.
Just a little further along the Bailey is a pub that claims to be one of the most haunted pubs in England ... make of that what you will!
Back to the afternoon. Geoffrey Stevenson had that awful slot when your audience have had a good lunch and the room is warm .... but with the use of a number of illustrations he took us through Matthew's Gospel and the Visual Arts. Sometimes these resources will be used in the preacher's preparation and occasionally they'll be shown to the congregation. He demonstrated very clearly the danger of using a screen when the preacher loses eye contact with the people - so it is okay to have a blank/dark screen at times so that full engagement with the congregation can be maintained. If people are looking at "eye candy" then they're not concentrating fully on the message.
Just before a final question and answer session Kate preached the sermon on Matthew 6:1-18 that she'd prepared as a result of her earlier session. Wow! That was some sermon! Never once did my attention stray from what she was saying. Not only has she a beautiful turn of phrase at times but her delivery was so engaging and powerful. I can see why it is sometimes better not to be confined in a small pulpit ... maybe that's the teacher in me remembering the freedom to move around .... a freedom that I enjoy so much in All Age Worship.
Imagine coming here to Cranmer Hall and stumbling upon such a useful conference!
Then, Evensong in the Cathedral. For those who know about these things it was "The Magdalen College Service" (Leighton) with the anthem "Let all the world in every corner sing". You're left a bit speechless after that. I'll be able to attend a few more services over the next few days and am looking forward to hearing the choir again and again.
whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven
that he might rule over all things as Lord and King:
Keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit
and in the bond of peace,
and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Collect of Christ the King
Book of Common Prayer