Category Archives: Church

God Is From Ghana

At the Church I go to, services are structured around  The Book Of Common Prayer and thus they tend to have a series of elements that are repeated every week. The Priest, or reader, says something and the congregation reply.

Because I am relatively new to Church, I tend to listen very carefully to the people around me, to make sure I am saying the right thing (there is a booklet but it can get confusing). I also tend to stand in the same place, in the same pew, every Sunday… And that is how I found out that Ghanaian is THE accent of Christianity.

Every week I hear the Ghanaian lady behind me (also a creature of habit about where she stands), saying her prayers etc. and it sounds PERFECT. Sometimes we have a Bible reading by an elderly Ghanaian guy and that too is absolutely awesome. God should be called “The LAAAHHHD” and nothing else. I love hearing it, it inspires me. By contrast my “Lawd” sounds utterly rubbish.

I’m still finding Church brilliant and peaceful and a joy. Sadly, I got a bit drunk at the “Bring and Share” lunch today and staggered home like a lush. I’d better say a couple of prayers to apologise to the LAAAHHHD for that, I think.

I Need Your Advice Please

I’m thinking of doing/organising some fund-raising, for our pretty little (inner city) Anglican Church. The funds would be for boring things (we don’t need a new steeple, or something sexy like that), so we are going to have to inspire generosity from a pretty cold start. Also, the congregation are mostly old and poor and the surrounding population is 70% Muslim… This may turn out to be quite a challenge.

Apparently, jumble sales and the like do not make much money anymore. It seems the availability of cheaper brands of clothing and the work of charity shops has made “jumble” redundant. I’m not sorry really, I bloody hate jumble sales.

I looked into those wristbands that various  charities sell. They’re fun but quite expensive, unless you invest a fortune. Also, ordering more of those to be made just seems like yet another way to pollute the environment. Have you ever raised funds using them? Are they worth ignoring the negatives?

I’ve thought about sponsored events but I don’t really like the idea of bothering people for money, to see me sitting in a bath full of jelly for ten hours. Ugh. Also, we’ve only just had a sponsored hymn night.

People like food, don’t they? Maybe I could make some sweets (chocolates, candy etc.) to sell. Or get someone who can actually bake to make some cakes. Please could some of you share any simple recipes (for sweets/chocolates/candy) with me?

Also, if any of you can suggest any tried and tested craft ideas (of the small fund-raising variety), I would love to hear them. I’m willing to put in the effort, if you KNOW they are worth making.

I know I could Google all this… But I want to hear from REAL PEOPLE about what ACTUALLY WORKS. I trust people who have the good taste and intelligence to read my blog. I’m not so trusting of companies whose main motivation is to sell me “St. Agnes Church” key-rings.

I did have one more idea and that was the internet. Father Stephen already runs a pretty kick ass website. I thought maybe he should set up a page about needing funds and put up a PayPal button, or something? I will suggest it to him, if people think that might work. We are in rather a difficult place to raise funds, so more fortunate Christians might help… But whether or not Father Stephen would do that, I don’t know.

Am I missing anything else? I don’t think a fashion show would work, by the way, unless it was for Zimmer frames, or embroidered hankies.

Thanks in advance!

To Celebrate Independence Day…

I’m going to tell you all my favourite old (and completely unrelated)  joke:

One day, a Vicar was asked by the Women’s Institute to give a talk about sex. He didn’t mind agreeing to give the talk but he was a bit worried that his wife wouldn’t like him doing it – so in his Diary he wrote “Talk to the Women’s Institute, about sailing”.

The day after the sex lecture, the Vicar’s wife was out shopping. After a while she bumped into the Chairwoman of the Women’s Institute.

“I thought the talk your husband gave last night was really excellent!” said the Chairwoman, “He certainly seemed like quite an expert on the subject!”.

“Did he?” said the Vicar’s wife, “I was surprised to see what he was going to talk about in his Diary, but I’m even MORE surprised that he sounded like an expert! He hardly knows anything about it! I mean, he has only done it twice… The first time he was sick and the second time his hat blew off!”.

HAHAHAHA! HAVE A GREAT DAY, ALL YOU CRAZY AMERICANS!

(I love that joke, I only hope you can all forgive me for indulging myself.)

How I Resisted Becoming A Mormon

Last night, the Mormons came to visit us. As I mentioned  in a previous entry, Dave had invited them, after talking to them at a bus stop… Which freaked me out slightly (when I found out) but nobody in this house is normal, so I just went with it.

The Mormons arrived early and looked VERY young. Clean-cut, polite, friendly boys, in ties (of course), who smiled with the serene faces of people who KNEW they had the answer. Brandon mostly hid upstairs, getting ready for Cadets but stopping intermittently, to sit with his head in his hands, going “What the hell are my parents doing NOW?”. By the time Bran left, the Mormons had settled in and he was glad to get away.

The Mormon approach to evangelism seems to be made up of three things – spreading the gospel (according to Joseph Smith), a bit of gentle hypnotism and some hard sales techniques:

The gospel part of it was… I don’t want to be too rude but frankly I thought it was funny. Please look into it for yourselves. I love the idea that after The Ascension, Jesus didn’t just go to Heaven – He flew to America and taught Americans all the same stuff he had taught before, including a reprise of the Sermon on the Mount.

The “sales” part of the visit was very off-putting. The Mormons kept trying to dictate to US what was going to happen. They asked us if we would be prepared to be baptised into their Church, if we believed their scriptures. The obvious answer to that is “yes”. But then they somehow ignored the IF and started arranging for us to be visited three times a week, to be prepared for baptism on the 24th of July. WTF? We put paid to that notion, saying they could leave their literature and a telephone number, but nothing else should be planned yet. The last time I experienced somebody trying to “close a deal” in that way was years ago, when an American neighbour was brow-beating me into buying cleaning goods, from Amway International. It didn’t work then.

The scariest part of their visit came in the middle. It was the part where they seemed to be trying some hypnosis techniques on us. We had to read part of their scriptures with them and then close our eyes and listen to the next part. We were told in advance that as we sat there, eyes closed, we would feel the Holy Spirit filling us and making us feel wonderful. I think that’s called “the power of suggestion”. Then one of them described a scene and asked us to imagine we were there and what it felt like (which seemed like another classic hypnotic technique, to me).

He told the story of Joseph Smith, being visited by God and Jesus. A pillar of light descending, two “Personages” appearing, brightness and glory all around ending with “… hear Him!” and then a loooong silence. All this time I had been sitting there, eyes closed, thinking “They’re trying to hypnotise us!” – so (and when I told David this, after the event, he said it was proof that I was utterly insane) I filled my mind with the most silly, funny, unlikely “message” the Holy Spirit could give me.

“DO YOU WANT SOME SAUSAGES?” I imagined the fake “Holy Spirit” asking. “DO YOU WANT SOME SAUSAGES? DO YOU WANT SOME SAUSAGES? DOYOUWANTSOMESAUSAGES? DOYOUWANTSOMESAUSAGES?”. By this brilliant method, I made myself immune to hypnotic suggestion, blocked out any artificially induced “revelations” and also made myself laugh a bit (inside). Dave actually did do what they asked but didn’t “feel” anything much. As he said later; the Catholic Church had been trying to brain-wash him all through school and that hadn’t worked either.

Finally they left, giving us a pile of literature and a quick prayer on the way out. They were nice enough but being Mormon isn’t for us, which I think they knew. When Brandon got home from Cadets (however) we did pretend to be newly converted Mormons, for at least five minutes. You should have seen the look on his face – it made the whole evening worth it.

Manic Mormon Monday

A couple of nights ago I was out with Brandon, when I got a text from Dave (who was also out). It seems that he had been early for his bus and had struck up a conversation, with two American guys, at the bus stop. So anyway, I suddenly got a text, completely out of the blue, that said:

“I just invited some Mormons round on Monday evening”.

WHAT? That took me by surprise. I mean, I have nothing against Mormons, I love Donny Osmond… But why on EARTH would Dave invite them to our house? Talking to strange Mormons while you are waiting for a bus is  mental enough, without letting them know where you LIVE. Admittedly, a Mormon friend of mine (American) gave me the best advice a girl could ever get (“Clothes should be tight enough to show that you’re a woman but loose enough to show that you’re a LADY”) but still, I knew her on the internet – I didn’t invite her OVER.

When I got home, I took Dave to task.

“Why did you invite Mormons to come round?”

“They seemed nice and it’ll be funny”.

You’re an Atheist and I’ve just started going to the Anglican Church… They’ll be wasting their time. WE will be wasting their time.”

“No, they will be telling us about their religion and we will be learning something. You’re getting into religion, so you should be interested!”

“I’m NOT interested in being a Mormon, they wear magic underwear!”

“Stop being a bigot.”

So it looks as though we have Mormons coming to preach to us, on Monday night. Bloody hell – I can’t even offer them a cup of tea, because they might get too stimulated by it. I read up on their beliefs (on Wikipedia) and the whole thing sounds BIZARRE  but Dave wouldn’t listen – when I tried to tell him he called it a “Spoiler Alert” and put his hands over his ears.

Men.

EDIT: Hahaha! Just as I was proof-reading this, Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on the front door, with a leaflet. Thank goodness *I* answered it.

10 Reasons I Enjoy Going To Church (On Top Of The Obvious God And Jesus Ones)

Getting up early every Sunday morning may sound like a bit of a chore but, so far, I enjoy going to Church and find it worth the effort. I’m not going to bang on about God and Jesus specifically – you will have your own beliefs and frankly I’m still not sure about how to describe mine. I can, however, list some of the reasons that I find attending Church a positive thing to do, beyond the undoubtable spiritual benefits and comfort it gives me:

1) Getting ready: I don’t have many “smart” clothes (especially since I’ve lost a lot of weight) but I still manage to look “dressed up” (for me) on most Sundays.  I used to go to Church in jeans and a T-shirt but now I quite like making an effort to look nice – I even iron my blouse!

2) Walking to Church: I really like walking to Church, because everywhere is quite and peaceful. I often see other dressed up people, and I know they are going to their Churches (or mine) too. That makes me smile. I don’t know whether to thank God or pollution, but I’ve been very lucky with the weather, on Church mornings.

3) Holy Water: The whole idea of Holy Water really appeals to me and the Anglican Church are right up there with the Catholics, when it comes to using it. It is awesome – it kills vampires, it frightens off demons and it purifies us, or something. I love the little stoup of water that we cross ourselves with, before entering the Church. Sometimes the Priest flicks Holy Water over us during the service and I struggle to decide how long it is polite to wait, before cleaning it off the lenses of my glasses.

4) Crossing myself: I like doing this but I had to learn how. I’m left-handed and I’m suspicious that the first few times I did it I was summoning the Devil by mistake. Not only does crossing myself make me feel Holy, it also makes me feel like I’m in a film, or I’m a Nun, or I’m a competitive sports legend.

5) The Church interior and stained-glass windows: Our Church is really old and traditional and beautiful. I love that.

6) The service: The Anglican Church put on a really good service. Loads of ornate things to say and reply, lots of standing up and down – and more songs than the Eurovision Song Contest. Brilliant. And I like the whole “Peace be with you” bit, where we go around shaking hands with everyone – I deliberately choose grumpy old people, and disruptive little kids.

7) The sermon:  I have, so far, never been bored by a sermon. What more can I say? I love it when the Priest (or whoever) goes, “Yesterday I was mowing my lawn and it suddenly struck me that a lawn mower is very much like Jesus…”. Hilarious. Every sermon I’ve heard has been thought-provoking and intelligent though.

8) Holy Communion: I’m still not Confirmed but I like going up for a Blessing.

9) The wine/tea/cakes: Staying after Church, sharing refreshments and chatting, is great fun. We have had a celebration of some kind almost every week though and that means glasses of wine BEFORE lunch. I must say, the only times I have been tipsy, since Christmas, can all be blamed on drinking after Church, in the Church building. Scandalous.

10) The walk home: I like walking home from Church, looking fine, full of the Holy Spirit and possibly with a nice little boozy buzz on. I like seeing how the streets have got busy and I stop off at the Asda to buy milk and cat food.

 Going to Church is well worth the effort.

A Rare Picture Of Me

Take a good look, because you won’t often see a picture of me on here! After posting yesterday about how often to blog, I’ve had an insanely busy Sunday with no time to write much. Added to that, I haven’t lined anything up from my old journal… So instead of being creative, I’m going to use a picture our Priest took at the Festival I told you about.

Despite the way the photo has come out, I DO have breasts and half my teeth are NOT missing. Oh and the guy in the T shirt really IS a trainee clergyman.