I’ve just done something I haven’t done in a while and I may well do again.
I’ve been promising myself and warning my husband that I would do it and today I finally did …. I went to the local church service.
I have to admit I had a preconceived idea of what to expect and I feebly thought there would be some significant spiritually uplifting experience as I secreted myself into a spare pew. But the earth did not move and I felt I’d somehow been robbed of my enlightenment entitlement.
Whether it was a combination of it being a Family Service with the Harvest Festival or whether it was the norm, I have yet to find out, but the incumbent pastor-ess gave no preamble of what was to come, just launched straight into the rousing hymn ‘We plough the fields and scatter’.
The service that followed consisted of around 95% singing and the remainder was a mixture of readings and prayer. And since when was it OK to clap in a church? Isn’t that a definite “no-no” (notwithstanding the fact I never did understand why you shouldn’t!)?
They did have a very good band playing guitars and percussion along with some extremely harmonious singers who sung in that 1960’s Joan Baez melodious way that makes you drift back to a less stressful era and I did have a small urge to sway to and fro and clap my hands to the music. But no one else was, so thinking they might wonder who the stranger was in the corner with that glazed hypnotic look in her eyes swaying to the music, I decided to sit quite still.
But there were none of the onerous sermons I’m familiar with to make every member of the congregation feel they were being personally persecuted (or perhaps that was just my own hefty level of guilt,) and there was far less soul searching as the pastor-ess continued in her rather happy-clappy style.
The service closed with a blessing and the Lord’s Prayer, at last something to which I was more accustomed! Then as everyone slowly arose ready to make their departure, there was a perceptible air of ‘greeting an old friend not seen for a while’ even though they all probably saw each other every day of the week.
I felt a little at sea then, being the new kid on the block, but I did help carry the Harvest Festival goodies out to the marquee where they were going to be auctioned and I also sampled the hog roast that was taking place. But my awkwardness at being on my own was too great and I headed home, only to be stopped by a member of the congregation I had never seen before that morning, but who chatted to me as if I had known them for years.
So perhaps that’s the new way; it’s not about being made to feel like a sinner, it’s all about making friends and being friendly.
(Oh and a little bit of business; I handed out a couple of business cards!)
Anyway I guess I’ll find out more next week – if I decide to go of course!