Sunday, 26 January 2014

Thought Picnic: My old ways in new church services

A church for Sunday
Much as I have the tendency to seek out an Evangelical church with a Pentecostal leaning, I have many times before harked back at my Church of England, Anglican roots.
The order or service, the hymns, the read prayers, the confessions of the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, the solemnity and the ceremony that accompanies Sung Eucharist still excites me.
Spending the weekend in Manchester, after searching for church where I could give thanks, I decided on the Manchester Cathedral. At the very least, because I am a confirmed Anglican, I can also partake in the Holy Communion.
Books and pamphlets
I arrived just as the choir were doing a processional hymn and I was offered a hard-covered green book and two pamphlets.
It took a while for me to catch on about what I needed to do to follow the service. I thought the book was a bible and the hymns were in the pamphlet, but then I realised it was the other way round. It appears the laity are allowed to participate in the singing and recitations but the bible and its interpretation is the job of the clergy.
A modern-day version of the Levitical priesthood, at least in the church setting. However, the readings between Isaiah and Matthew heralded the coming of Jesus Christ and it did not occur to me until this morning that Galilee was of the Gentiles and not of the Jews, much as it might have had a significant Jewish population.
The old and new
As we service progressed, I found that my knowledge was based on the Book of Common Prayer (1662) but the recitations were based on Common Worship (2000), I suddenly realised I am quite old school, Old English, cut from Ancient and Modern practice. Christ! I was confirmed 33 years ago.
It appears my ‘thou helpeth me as I prayeth to thee, O God’ was no more the vernacular, where have I been all this time as the Church of England moved on?
At Communion, I did not drink from the cup, rather, I dipped my wafer in the wine, this I learnt from the fear of catching colds or flus, how we have been seized upon but such modern ideas.
Water and tea
At the end of the service, I join the congregation for tea and then made conversation with a lady who happened to walk in with a watering can in one hand and a cup of tea in the other.
Mischievously, I quipped about how unusual that combination was as she watered the flowers that should have gone into the nave but for constraints of time before the service.
She had the office of the Head of Flowers and to me that was just as much a calling and ministry as any in the church. That is something I miss about church when I was in Amsterdam and in London when I attended C3 Church, there was always something to get involved in, the ushering or the cleaning up was always a pleasure.
For convenience of travel in London, I recently started attending Hillsong London that meets at the Dominion Theatre, which offers the choice of one of four services on Sunday, though, I think I would just find a church to attend on Sunday and critically, it must reflect the community in which it is set.


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