The First Day of Christmas

posted by Mike on December 26th, 2014

Many writers have noted that, in terms of national and international news, 2014 was a bad one. (It was a tough year for me, too.) Advent didn’t give us a break. I’d like to think we’re due for a couple good months.

The best way to shorten winter is to prolong Christmas; and the only way to enjoy the sun of April is to be an April Fool.
GK Chesterton

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Mozarabic liturgy

posted by Kaihsu Tai on August 24th, 2012

Liturgia Mozárabe, Iglesia Catedral del Redentor, Iglesia Española Reformada Episcopal (Comunión Anglicana), Madrid Thanks to the travel expert Rick Steves, I knew about the Mozarabic Rite when I visited the Toledo Cathedral near Madrid in 2003. There, the Mozarabic liturgy has been kept in use. Sadly, I was not there at the right time to observe the Mass.

In 2009, while walking around in the Lower East Side of New York, I spotted the Saint Isidoro and Saint Leandro Church, which seemed to belong to the Orthodox Synod of Milan. The church was closed when I visited, so again I was not able to experience the liturgy first hand. Indeed, the identity of the church required some further research on the web to ascertain.

Finally, last Easter (2011), I had another chance to visit Madrid, this time as an Anglican. So, I went to our church there, the Cathedral of the Redeemer. The Iglesia Española Reformada Episcopal (in both the Anglican Communion and the Porvoo Communion) received the Mozarabic liturgy both through its own land and through the reimport via the Book of Common Prayer: Archbishop Cranmer referred to the Mozarabic liturgy while compiling the book.

So this ancient and rare liturgy is kept alive by three major traditions of the faith. I am glad to have discovered this over the last decade.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Houses of Worship, Itinerant Communicant, Orthodoxy | on August 24th, 2012 | Permanent Link to “Mozarabic liturgy” | Comments Off on Mozarabic liturgy

Merry Christmas!

posted by Mike on December 26th, 2011

Hope all the P&C readers out there had a good Christmas.

I’m sure there’s a technical term for how the viewer separates the artwork from the background. I love taking creche photos in part because the background is so often completely inappropriate, and occasionally accidentally appropriate. Here, NO TRESPASSING and BEWARE OF THE DOG are a “No room at the inn” for our time.

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Holy Week church-hopping and other items

posted by Mike on April 23rd, 2011

The day before Holy Week began, I attended a wedding at St. Columba’s United Reformed Church in Oxford, UK. St. Columba’s is down an alley near some of the Oxford colleges. It’s a normal sort of church inside, with a vestibule and facade that make it look like an office building.

Most churches stand out. St. Columba’s is hidden. Attending church there was like going to a house mass—nobody walking past suspects you’re going to a sacred gathering.

(Best wishes to the bride and groom—your lovely wedding is an auspicious start to your lives together.)
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Salvation Army, Kibera, Nairobi

posted by Mike on January 9th, 2011


Today, at the invitation of a friend of a friend, I went to worship with the Salvation Army in the Kibera neighborhood. Read the rest of this entry »

Merry Christmas!

posted by Mike on January 7th, 2011

Enough of this pre-Christmas and post-Christmas blogging; today is Orthodox Christmas.

Last night I stopped by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Nairobi a few hours before Christmas mass, which I considered attending but was warned off from by a couple non-Amharic-speakers.


Here’s a photo of the inside I took at the urging of a member of the congregation. The painting of the three bearded men depicts the Trinity. I was told that the TV screen, though not working at present, is intended to give people a view of what’s happening in the inner sanctuary when the curtain is closed.

I love watching people showing up for Ethiopian mass, the women in white packed into cars, emerging like circus clowns turning into butterflies.
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Friends Meeting, Nairobi

posted by Mike on January 6th, 2011

Last Sunday I stopped by the Quakers on Ngong Road in Nairobi for the mostly-silent “unprogrammed worship.” This is one of the few religious services where I feel obtrusive—it’s like sitting in at an AA meeting when you’re not part of that community.


The unprogrammed worship didn’t go very long, so we walked over to another building where they hold, you guessed it, “programmed worship.” I had no idea such a thing existed. It’s similar to an evangelical service. (Though on the tamer side.)

One more surprising fact: Kenya has the most Quakers of any nation. I am told that the Ngong Road congregation is mostly Luhya.

Merry post-Christmas!

posted by Mike on December 29th, 2010

As predicted, we welcomed Christmas on the road, but within a few hours were in the arms of family, and had a very lovely Christmas day.

We celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family at St. Austin’s Parish in Nairobi, Kenya, where the church was packed, the music lovely, and the homily namechecked Facebook.

No photographs of the church, I’m sorry to say, but continuing my long-running “quirky creche” series, here are a couple of nativity scenes that caught my eye this week.


The household nativity scene above is pretty standard, except for the Godzilla-sized sheep lurking behind it. “You should see the shepherds….””


This one is at the Mwangaza Jesuit Centre. There are several pieces of fantastic religious sculpture there, but our subject today is nativity scenes, so here it is. I like that the shepherd is playing some sort of bagpipes, and also that the background decor is made of gift wrapping paper and Christmas lights. Nice touches, which I’ll keep in mind next time I help make a creche.

Storkyrkan, Stockholm

posted by Kaihsu Tai on December 9th, 2010

Eva Brunne, Bishop of Stockholm I went to Mass in Stockholm Cathedral midday today. It was presided by Eva Brunne, Bishop of Stockholm. I was pleased to affirm her ministry in this way. Incidentally, I am now under the pastoral care of Irja Askola, Bishop of Helsinki.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Finland, Itinerant Communicant | on December 9th, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Storkyrkan, Stockholm” | Comments Off on Storkyrkan, Stockholm

Metal Mass

posted by Kaihsu Tai on October 14th, 2010

Metal Mass, Temppeliaukio Church, 2010-10-14 I went to Metal Mass (Metallimessu) in my church this evening.

It was a plug for the upcoming church elections to encourage youth to participate. It attracted about 200 people – about half of which were younger than I. The hymns were straight out of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church’s hymnbook (Virsikirja): 205, 125, 77, 15, 226 (12th-century Latin hymn Jesu dulcis memoria, a monster of 16-stanzas: imagine it in metal! sadly only the first 8 were performed), 332b (here is a sample of this hymn in metal), 160, 517; and the reading from the week’s entry in the Church’s lectionary. Hymns at Metal Mass, Temppeliaukio Church, 2010-10-14 But the heavy-metal style of music gave the appropriate sense of urgency to (for example) ”Jumalan Karitsa” (“Agnus Dei”) and the readings (Abram and the stars from Genesis 12; Mark’s account in chapter 2 of healing the paralyzed down the roof) were also poignant about God being our only hope when all else is lost. Overall a moving and striking experience.

I am looking forward to the next time Metal Mass will be in Stadi: the 5th anniversary service will be on 30 June 2010.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Creative Resistance, Finland, Itinerant Communicant | on October 14th, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Metal Mass” | Comments Off on Metal Mass