God would be “revelling” in the joy a “glorious” helter-skelter has brought to Norwich Cathedral, its bishop has told his congregation from its slide.
The fairground ride had been in the nave of the cathedral for 11 days.
It was intended to give people a different view of the building, although some accused the cathedral of “making a mistake”.
The Bishop of Lynn, the Rt Revd Jonathan Meyrick, delivered his sermon from halfway up the ride.
“God is a tourist attraction,” he told his congregation during the cathedral’s final service with the helter-skelter as a backdrop.
“God wants to be attractive to us… for us to enjoy ourselves, each other and the world around us and this glorious helter-skelter is about just that.”
The bishop had climbed to the top of the helter-skelter before edging halfway down the slide, where he stopped to deliver his sermon.
He then received a loud cheer as he whooshed to the bottom.
“Enjoying ourselves is a good thing to do and God will be revelling in it with us and all those people who have found fun and joy and laughter here,” he said.
Bishop Meyrick, a grown man of 67 who calls himself the “Rocking Bishop,” also sang the Bee Gees song “Words” as part of his sermon. Delivered from the slide of a fairground device. Inside a 12th century cathedral. That no doubt will be a 22nd century mosque.
Baby Boomers — what would we do with out them? For your spiritual edification, here’s the Rocking Bishop performing “Wild Thing” at a local concert in 2012. Whatever, man:
UPDATE: Father Frank Bass, a reader and Catholic priest, offers this sobering reflection in the comments section. He suggests that grief is a more appropriate response than mockery. I think he’s probably right:
As a former Anglican my heart grieves when I read one of these stories. I used to laugh when I was younger and more cynical, but no more. I remember being at a Harvest Festival Service of Matins in the breathtaking medieval cathedral in Lincoln. The processional hymn was in its third stanza and I had already been reduced to tears both by the sheer beauty of it all and sadness for the good things I’d had to leave behind when I left Anglicanism. Then, behind some prelate or canon residentiary there appeared in the procession a man dressed as a giant asparagus spear singing with great solemnity as he made his way forward to reverence the altar. Apparently he represented some farmers’ guild.While still crying I instantly guffawed. I couldn’t even catch myself. And it was loud! I stuck my face back in my hymnal and didn’t look up again until after the Jubilate had been chanted. But it was important in helping me understand what the Master told us to let the dead bury the dead. That such foolishness could be inserted into an otherwise staid and traditional liturgy without anyone blinking an eyed showed me that what I missed was already dead, and that I should move on with my heart as well as my head.
It seems more and more to me as I enter old age that perhaps the best way I can be ecumenical is to grieve with equal generosity that which was lovely, true, and good but is now lost to the memory of both Catholics and Protestants. Both have experienced catastrophic losses, and we don’t sacrifice one iota of our own orthodoxy when we weep with those who weep, no matter their creed.