I was in Norwich yesterday with time to wander as my car was undergoing heart-by pass treatement with a 40k service (including cam belt change) and MoT test, and I decided to call in to the Cathedral where I unexpectedly had the opportunity to join their 11.00 a.m. BCP Holy Communion service. An interesting celebration, with bits missed out and no directions given and a priest who seemed to be saying the words by rote rather than by heart, but still a channel for God's grace to flow through. This was a refreshing stop for me by itself, but as I left the small circular side-chapel I found myself witnessing a walk-through rehearsal for the ordination service this Saturday. About a dozen ordinands dressed in their crisp new black cassocks were going through their paces for the service, and receiving instruction as to what to say, when to say it, where to stand and what they would be holding. It was a reminder of my own ordination rehearsal held 28 years ago in Salisbury cathedral when I started out on this slippery slope of ministry.
Leaving The Close I called in at the Tombland Bookshop and within minutes had found a volume by Baring-Gould on the development and change that was sweeping through villages at the end of the 19th century. There is a whole chapter on the parish church and how ancient screens, traceries, pulpits and the like were being hauled away in the name of "restoration". The book contains a timely reminder that once it's gone, it's gone, and calls for a more reasoned approach to heritage whilst balancing that with the worship needs. The words may be over a century old, but they remain bang up to date.
Then into the city centre to wander round a cheap CD and DVD store, get a coffee from a well-known Coffee House chain, and then to Cafe Rouge to use a 20% discount voucher against a wonderful main course of "steak/frites".
More wandering followed, up to the "Country & Eastern" emporium housed in the old skating rink, and its wondeful stock of oriental carpets, china, textiles and wood. On the way, passing through the Market Square, I saw something that restored my faith in human nature. An elderly gentleman walking with the aid of a frame on wheels had misjudged the shallow steps to one side of the square, and had fallen forward and was hanging on to the handrail unable to move. A group of youngsters - probably from the UEA - immediately went to his aid, helping him up, retrieving his scattered parcels, and checking that he was uninjured. Young people get such negative press, but here their help was instinctive and speedy.
And to top it all off, even though the car servicing was faily expensive, it was exactly as estimated and with no unexpected work required.
A good day off all round.