Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Two services

This weekend gone is notable for two of the services which i had the privilege and joy to be the officiant at. The first was the aformentioned wedding that took place on Saturday of the two publicans/hoteliers that was possibly the most relaxed and enjoyable wedding i have ever taken part in. It was possibly also the most scatty service i have ever had a part in...

It was a ridiculously busy week ending up with a ridiculously busy Saturday. I started by leaving the house at about 8.30am to help at a worship leader training day - not sure how much use i was as i felt i had to busk the session, because my preparation didn't seem to fit the feeling of the day... Fortunately being relatively well read about the subject of worship history and liturgy i don't think i made a complete hash of things...

Anyway, leaving that early around midday i dashed back to the Rectory to get my stuff together for my first wedding of the day which took place here - a very enjoyable event with a couple who i felt knew what was going on and who wanted to make the most of the service. The bride was possibly one of the most nervous i have encountered but apart from what looked liked a panic attack in the sermon got through things without any difficulties. I'm pretty sure that my sermon was not the cause of any panic attack vibes, but who knows!??!!

Then I had to speed off to my next wedding, and arrived 45 minutes before the ceremony realising that i had no service book, i had left it in my study on my all to brief stop between services, so i had to borrow a printout which i had given to the bride and groom a week or two previously in their wedding prep service. My service book had also contained my preferred translation of the Bible passage and, between the pages, a copy of my sermon for the service! On arriving at Church i was confronted with the registers, which i had not been able to get hold of before due to them being locked in the safe and me not having a key. In the UK the registers are a big deal because they are legal documents and for the purpose of marriage a clergybeing becomes a registrar, so there are a whole load of implications with regards to having to have them clearly and correctly filled out. I had half and hour to do this, so went into high speed accurate writing mode and finished about 10 minutes before the start of the ceremony.

Despite all this, i found an appropriate bible translation, remembered most of my sermon, had filled the registers correctly and by the time the service started felt relaxed and ready to go. Both parties having been married before this was something they had thought about very hard and considered before embarking upon so they were seriously up for the service and determined to enjoy it. I was struck by how well i knew the congregation, very few of whom actually grace the Church with their presence, but i had got to know many of them in my visits around the village, involvement with school, visits to the pub and club, and general 'hanging out' in the parish. They felt like a congregation of friends and reminded me of my role to be the minister to the whole community, not just to the few who come to our Sunday worship.

The service went well, and was followed by a very relaxed reception which, as i wrote before, i finally left at 1am or so. All in all, despite the scattyness (due to overwork rather than stupidity or disorganisation, i would say) it was an enjoyable and refreshing day.

The next morning saw me dashing home in the morning to print out service sheets and hymsn for a new style of worship service which we are trying out in the Church in this village. Again, there was some stress as WORD crashed whilst i was trying to print out the sheets, but thanks to the wonder of autorecover i did manage to get things done before the service. The service itself was quite different to what people are used to here - more songs (of the contemporary worship variety rather than hymns) a loosely (but legally) liturgical shape, a slightly longer sermon than usual and a different approach to prayer. I've had a mixed response to the whole thing, but the reason we are trying this is because of strong representation from a number of parishioners to try and do something new, something with a bit of an edge, something that a significant group of the congregation will enjoy and be inspired by.

It's always hard trying something different, so i am not sure it was a great success, but i responded to what i had been asked to try and it remains up to those who were there to let me know what did and didn't work. The important thing, as the Church musician pointed out, is that 'there was some worship going on there' and i hope that God can work with that and might even enjoy it!

wow, an unusually long post, there's my weekend. Comments welcome....

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