not me

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?

8 thoughts on “not me

  1. I believe we are supposed to be welcoming and open to people, but that doesn’t mean that we’re supposed to “catch” them. We are to show that we are there to talk to if they want to!

  2. In Bute we would think we had failed.

    In worshipper mode, nothing upsets me worse than a poor sermon.

  3. Sometimes just being with others who acknowledge God is enough. There are important occasions in life where words matter, and sometimes just as important are the times when you’ve been in the company of loved ones, had a lovely day, yet have rarely spoken. There’s so much more in communication than words.

  4. This sounds just about right – apart from the poor sermon, which would probably make sure I avoided having to talk to the preacher after it!

  5. Some come to buy; some just to browse.

    The beauty of what you describe is that it sounds like they weren’t trying too hard. And nor were you. But despite this, the bereaved person was heard by the rector, and the music was heard by you.

    Magic.

  6. One of my worst experiences of visiting a church as a one off occasion where I had no desire to be noticed, and just needed to be there, (I’d been all night in A & E with someone, and was needing to get back there as soon as I could) included the “welcomer” literally blocking the door to prevent me leaving without being talked to.

    I confess I was abominably rude and refused to say anything other than insisting he move to let me out.

    My other bad experience was arriving at a church I used to know to discover it had changed it’s pattern of worship, the service about to start wasn’t communion, deciding to go to the neighbouring church which would definitely be communion, and getting in a tangle with the welcomer who was upset I wouldn’t stay…

  7. I think there is always someone at church who likes to have the weekly experience you had K.
    Mind you, due to slightly declining youth in church I feel a little trip whenever I miss chatting to a young person in church and they “slip out”.
    We always try to say hi and bye to everyone at church but would never get into the same situation as Moyra described, I think that totally defeats the purpose.

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