“I was glad when they said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord” – Psalm 122:1.
The thing I love most about living in Brisbane is worshipping in St. John’s Cathedral. Whenever possible I attend the Choral Eucharist on Sunday mornings, as well as Evensong in the evening. The soaring space and coloured glass, the solemn celebration of the Liturgy, the wonderful music performed by the world-class choir and organist, and the fellowship of the congregation all contribute to the strong realisation that I frequently have there: “Truly, God is in this place”.
I was raised in a strict and orthodox Calvinist Church, and switched to the Lutheran Church during adolescence. Possibly because of family influences my inclination has always been to search for an experiential awareness of the mystery that is God. Faith was seen as reducible to the analytic / logical aspect, a mere mental assent to a set of propositions. As a young seminarian I much preferred to attend Evensong in the Anglican St. Peter’s Cathedral in Adelaide, instead of “witnessing” and winning souls for Jesus in my assigned Lutheran parish, or rocking to Kindekrist and their Jesus songs in Lutheran St. Stephen’s.
Over time I drifted away from the Church. I had not attended Church more than six times over the last thirty years.
I was still a seeker, and spent many years following Wilber, Advaita and Buddhism in pursuit of the non-dual. I incorporated Centering Prayer in my spiritual practice, and meditated for hours every day. I had some Consciousness experiences, but eventually disillusionment set in.
I was introduced to the New Perspective on Paul through Krister Stendahl. I then discovered the work of the Anglican bishop and scholar Tom Wright, and in parallel I stumbled on the philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd. A new world opened up for me. God works in tenacious ways!
After leaving the remote mining town where I lived for many years, I was keen to reconnect with the Lutheran Church. I had high hopes of singing the Liturgy and Bach’s great hymns again. Sadly, all that is gone. Remnants of Liturgy are muttered, and Bach is in the trash, replaced by “songs”. Kindekrist has won the day.
I now go to St. John’s, and the priest only has to say “The Lord be with you”, and my whole being starts tingling. When during the Great Thanksgiving he chants the invitation to sing the eternal song, and the choir intones the Sanctus, I have great difficulty keeping my composure. When he recites the words of institution, I too am in the upper room. This is Christian non-duality.
St. John’s is a blessing to Brisbane. Where else in the world can one participate in worship set to Schubert’s Mass in G one week, and Duruflé’s Requiem the following week? What happens there is truly wondrous and a gift of God. I will miss it when I relocate away from Brisbane soon.