Broughton held a memorable and moving service on Sunday evening, 21st February 2016. Our monthly Evensong and Benediction played host to Bishop Hassan James, Assistant Bishop of Kadugli Diocese in Sudan, and the new Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven, the Venerable Beverley Mason; with people from several neighbouring parishes.
Sung Prayer Book Evensong is one of the glories of the Anglican patrimony. This was followed by Benediction, with incense and full Catholic ritual, such as we have not known in this little rural church for as long as anyone can remember – Canon Ann had even made the humeral veil, since none could be borrowed for some twenty miles around.
As the Sacrament was placed on the altar in the monstrance, the Revd Heather Houlton, Curate of Holy Trinity Skipton, who had originally arranged this service for the Skipton Deanery, led the prayers for healing. And then, one by one, individuals came and knelt at the altar rails to receive the laying on of hands from Bishop Hassan.
Simple, formal, ritualized, this was an expression of Our Lord’s power to heal. Based not on our own feelings or personal response, but on the reality of Christ’s power within his Church. All Saints’ has celebrated this power for healing for many decades now: it has become a discipline and a vocation. It was, therefore, a great privilege to share this in a grander context and with a wider congregation.
Like the Canaanite woman who cried out, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, thou Son of David,’ (the evening’s New Testament reading) we do not understand how the healing power of Jesus can work, but we trust with all our heart that it is so, and that he can touch us and raise us up.
At the end of the service, Bishop Hassan spoke briefly about the great suffering of his people in the Nuba Mountains, at the hands of the Muslim government, but also of their great faith that they are not alone, that ‘God is with us’. Moving and humbling. We sent our collection to his diocese.
And finally, to warm people up before the return home, mulled wine at the back of church, as people met old friends and new, spoke to the Bishop and our new Archdeacon on her first visit to the deanery. With many thanks to all who helped.