Sharing the peace is an Anglican institution, one that I think I can get used to. It's purpose is well written about by the wonderful Phil. But recently, our friend Rowan and his cronies - I can say these things now, I hang with the cool kids - have decided that due to this faff about some pigs with influenza, no-one can actually shake hands or hug.
If you've read Phil's blog, which I shall link again, because it's quite important to the premise of this piece, you'll see that the 'contact sport' of Anglicanism is almost counted null and void with these new guidelines.
Which is a shame. Of all the Anglican things including in the rather alien service, I could really appreciate a hug.
I'm reading War & Peace (still). I love it. It's a beautiful epic book, covering everything, love, politics, family, fashion, society, and unsurprisingly, war, and peace. One of my favourite ideas that is so well described by Tolstoy is the adoration given the Tsar by the army of Russia. He goes into pages of detail about how simply seeing the Tsar can inspire an entire division, rouse the army to emotion, bring about a desire to fight and defend Russia.
One young character, Nikolay, is describing is painstaking detail as to his love and adoration for his monarch, the one he fights to defend. He is eager, willing and most of all, in love with the Tsar, despite not having a relationship with him, or even being spoken to by him.
Last night at church we sang Majesty, by Delirious. A lovely tune, an easy one to belt out and enjoy. And then it became apparent to me that in reading War & Peace, I have a better understanding of royalty and all that comes with it. Don't get me wrong, I'm a bit of a Royalist when it comes down to it, but Prince Charles will never inspire me to fight for him.
But I sat there thinking about how Jesus is described as King and so on, which, in our mostly post-royal age is a poorly understood definition. But I think I'm coming to grips with it. Jesus is someone who can inspire an army, just by the mere sight of him. He can rouse a heart to emotion before unseen. The sound of his voice can lift spirits when the going is hard, the road is boggy and the war ahead seems endless.
And the best bit of it? He's not a distant monarch. He doesn't demand allegiance and send you off to war. He's there. In the thick of battle, with you. He doesn't merely survey a procession of troops and give approval to the whole army. He stops and speaks to every soldier, encouraging them, urging them to press on... and rides at the head, the first one to go into the front line.
This post was written over two days, with lots of disparate thoughts going through my head. It's not as clear, nor does it express the constant astonishment I feel about Jesus, as I would like it. I will tidy it up, and hopefully write something more eloquent. Look forward to that.