Yesterday I did something that was, for me, extraordinary… I went to Church. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I recently decided to start going to Church – but of course, “deciding” to do something and actually getting around to it, don’t always go hand in hand.
This time though, I followed up on my decision. I felt a really odd need to express my spirituality. Plus, the Dalai Lama had impressed me with his advice that everyone should embrace the religions of their own culture. Plus, a Muslim taxi driver had told me that “People should go to Church, no matter what their religion. Following a faith is what separates us from the animals – if you do not go to Church, you will become vile”. Wow. I can’t help thinking though, that only *I* could be convinced to attend a Christian Church by a Buddhist and a Muslim.
Anyway… I chose the Church I went to by a very modern means – I saw their website and liked it. Hahaha! It all seemed very welcoming and well thought out. The Church was Anglican and a bit “High Church” (in the “modern catholic” tradition), which means it isn’t Roman Catholic but it IS full of ritual, symbolism and formality. Which I want in a Church, I like old-fashioned services. Luckily (is that the word?) I was also baptised into the Church of England – so no conflict there then.
I turned up at Church absolutely terrified. I haven’t been to Church under my own steam before – I’ve always had an ulterior motive (like hearing my Banns called, or attending a funeral, or a wedding). I felt an absolute fraud walking in – I wasn’t really a “proper” Christian, because I hadn’t made my mind up about it at all. And I didn’t know what to do, half the time, whereas everyone else seemed to be crossing themselves and picking up books and stuff automatically. I was impressed that there were so many people there though and they did seem friendly.
I’m not going to bang on about the whole service… Suffice to say, I enjoyed it, Father Stephen was wonderful, I spent a lot of the time like a rabbit caught in the headlights – and holding a large Hymn book, an Order of Service booklet and a lit candle all at the same time, is very bloody difficult.
There was one funny moment during the service though and that was during Holy Communion (not traditionally thought of as a time for comedy, but still). The thing is, I may have been baptised into the C of E but I’ve never been Confirmed. People who haven’t been Confirmed don’t really receive Holy Communion but can go up for a Blessing . I went up for a Blessing and (as the rules dictate) I carried my Order of Service booklet (which is a secret signal that means “Sorry, no Holy Communion for me”). Father Stephen was a bit slow to notice the booklet (until I pulled a face) and almost gave me some wafer. But the lady who followed him with the wine positively IGNORED the booklet, until (in my panic) I thrust it out between us, slightly aloft. By which I mean, I literally drove her back, in the manner of someone repelling a vampire with a crucifix. Hahaha! It must have looked very bizarre.
The congregation had a cup of tea together, after the service, and I apologised to the poor wine lady (who laughed heartily). Somehow I also seem to have agreed to climb up ladders and clean the Church rafters, next Thursday morning…