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1103: "Stand Up for Jesus", Caister Retreat 2005, Caister, Norfolk, England
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Caister Retreat 2005
Mystery Worshipper: Sir Viet.
The church: "Stand Up for Jesus", Caister Retreat 2005, Caister, Norfolk, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: This retreat is held on the Haven Holiday Camp in Caister, Norfolk. Neptune's Palace is skilfully transformed for the week into a worship centre, using banners and drapes. The altar is set on the platform, all the trappings are brought in, including a crucifix and a paschal candle. One area is screened off, and the blessed sacrament is reserved here. There is a prayer board, an image of Our Lady of Walsingham, and plenty of space for prayer or contemplation.
The church: This is a gathering of Christians, mostly of the Anglo-catholic tradition, which has occured in low week most years since 1996. It is a time of prayer, worship and teaching, and is attended by clergy and laity from all over the country, and by religious from various communities.
The neighbourhood: The camp swimming pool was available (although the slide was closed, which was a bit of a disappointment), and I am reliably informed that some brothers who were big enough to know better were seen cavorting in the ball pool.
The cast: The Bishop of Horsham, Bishop Lindsay Urwin, aided and abetted by other Bishops including Bishop Martyn Jarrett (Beverley) who preached, and, over the course of the week, Bishop John Goddard (Burnley), Bishop Tony Robinson (Pontefract), Bishop John Hind (Chichester) and Bishop Nicholas Reade (Blackburn).
What was the name of the service?
Sung Mass, the closing event of the week.

How full was the building?
Full, with 500 people.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
As the retreat was a week-long affair, this wasn't applicable.

Was your pew comfortable?
We sat on comfortable chairs arranged in a semicircle in front of the altar.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet and reverential. A music group sang a few songs and people joined in or listened.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"In the Name of the Father..."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The service book was printed for the week and contained everything we needed.

What musical instruments were played?

Did anything distract you?
It was difficult not to be distracted by the Bishop's robes! He saved his best frock for the last day.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Relaxed, formal worship, Catholic but filled with the Spirit.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
14 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
He started with the story of a dictator who wanted to know what the people thought of him. The Messiah was viewed as someone who would rule, sort out past wrongs – not the Kingship Jesus brought; the Servant King, motivated by love. Only 1 way to follow Him and we will be judged by our service to the undeserving, as well as to those who deserve our help. God sees Jesus reflected in us and that is our hope of salvation. Then he gave us a charge: we should not aim at the wrong targets, beware of standing up for the wrong things at the wrong time. We should stand up for Jesus and follow Him as one who serves. We are challenged by the Gospel to bring about a change of attitude to all the people of the world. If we let Christ live in us, others will see Him through us. We mustn't be inward-looking and should resolve to be open to other Christians who see things differently to us. We should go in humble service to those we find most difficult, both in and out of the church, and in Jesus's strength.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The singing was wonderful, led efficiently and reverently by the music group, and resoundingly participated in by the congregation. Not just the hymns, but the Mass settings that were used, particularly on that last day.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The worst bit was knowing that this was the last event of the retreat; that as soon as it was over we would have coffee and leave the many new friends we had made over those wonderful days.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Everyone was friendly. There was nowhere to hide!

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
We had machine coffee, but it was good. We didn't need accompaniments, having had an enormous breakfast earlier on!

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 – If only it was an ongoing event!

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, Resoundinly so.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The enthusiasm and energy of the Bishops and Religious; the way it rubbed off on us all.
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