I drove to Coventry yesterday to see my good friend Clive Hogger get ordained as a deacon in the cathedral there. The ceremony had - maybe appropriately - a little of a wedding about it, combined with something of a christening. There were lots of ladies in hats and there was a general buzz of familial pride.
For me it was all a bit strange. The only services I have been to for as long as I can remember have been weddings and funerals. Had I not felt a bond with Clive, I dare say the ritual could have been fairly empty for me as a non-believer, but the one thing that I did find moving as well as seeing the bishop blessing Clive and him walking away looking a foot taller - was when everyone was encouraged to greet their neighbour.
Hundred of people turning to each other and shaking the hands of friends and strangers and saying, 'Peace be with you,' struck me as a quite a beautiful thing and managed to somehow short circuit my default setting of cynicism. It had a simplicity that was lost among the pomp of the occasion.
So, peace be with you.
And good luck to Clive, the coolest deacon I know.
After the reception back at Alison's parent's house near Rugby, I then drove back to Cambridge in time to have, appropriately enough after standing on the touchline with Clive watching our sons play football for their school, a kick around with my son and watch Spain win Euro 2008 in fantastic style.