A blissful morning of church without responsibility.
I have realised that on those rare occasions when I go to church somewhere else, what I want is in many cases the exact opposite of what I think matters as a priest.
So, I went early for quiet (a hoped for, but often unrealised goal in my various congregations).
I said a quick good-morning to the welcomer, and was impressed when he used as few words as possible to direct me to the second pew-sheet I missed. (‘ you need… (point)’ ‘oh, thanks…’ and we both went on our way)
I said nothing to anyone after that.
The music was superb (and crucial to the experience of worship).
The sermon was tedious (which was frustrating, but didn’t matter nearly as much as I would tell myself it did if I had preached it).
As I left, the person ahead of me stopped to tell the rector about someone who had died, and I slipped past with a deliberate (simple) bow to show I wasn’t ignoring him, but no words.
I didn’t go to coffee (well, not at church) and I felt no need to linger.
Now, I know that that is not how I would behave if I lived there and were going every week. But I was grateful for the freedom to come and go without being overwhelmed by people trying to make me welcome.
But if we in Cowal and Bute (or in our companion overseas diocese) let someone slip by so easily, would we think we had failed?