I have just helped to host my first Daddy’s Hat concert, at Billingsley on St George’s Day. A group of local musicians come to a church, to provide an hours worth of music; at the end, a hat is passed round and the collection is used to cover expenses. Normally I will get between 2 and 5 people for the 8am eucharist (yes, some people do prefer the early start), perhaps 10 or 12 for the monthly evening service. For the concert, we had 23 people, including 2 children; 24 if you count the dog. Now, most were not from Billingsley, despite me doing a leaflet drop and advertising it on Facebook. And this was not anything like a traditional service. I did sneak in a prayer for St George and we gave a spirited rendition of “When a knight won his spurs”, taking some of us back to our schooldays. But “Leaving on a jet plane” and various numbers from musicals are not usually associated with church; guitarist Sam’s original song “The bronze age” celebrated pre-Christian culture. So why did I come away thinking the Holy Spirit was moving in the church? Our gathering was not religious, but it was spiritual. The music touched our emotions, in a setting made holy by 900 years of prayer. In fact, perhaps nearer 4000 years of prayer, for a ritually deposited bronze age axe has been found just a few hundred yards from the church. And it was again Sam, the guitarist, who sang about when a crack appears, light can shine in.
We live in an age when a majority do not identify with any recognised religion, but we are hard-wired to be spiritual beings. God is no less real just because people do not believe in him/her. The Holy Spirit still hovers over the face of waters, the face of the planet, the faces of all people. My job as a priest is to give people the eyes, the language, the hearts to recognise and respond to this. I am not particularly bothered what they want to call the Spirit; I am certainly not bothered where they come from. On St George’s Day, the music in Billingsley Church opened a crack and The Light shone in.
(On Saturday 28th May, the next Daddy’s Hat concert will be at Glazeley, at 3pm)