Posted by: lucylastic | May 15, 2007

Oh, Happy Day!!!! (repeat after me……..)

I don’t want to upset anyone, but lively renditions of the Gospel song ‘Oh, Happy Day’ with suitable harmonies, foot-stepping and enthusiastic hand-clapping are definitely better suited to people who find it relatively easy to leave their inhibitions behind them.  Sadly, this wasn’t the case at Sunday’s splendid ‘Confirmation & Renewal’ service at Christ Church, Swindon.  And the sight of our enthusiastic, but not very well supported Evangelical Minister trying desperately to engage the (mostly) aging, white, middle class congregation had me cringing and wishing I could be a long way away.  It’s a terribly British reaction I know – but sorry, I don’t want to stand and clap and sing in church – if I wanted that, I would have joined up somewhere else.  And if the reaction of the crowd wasn’t evidence enough of the triumph of hope over reality, the church has signed itself up to perform with an (as yet unformed) Gospel Choir at the Old Town Festival in a very short 7 weeks time – faith indeed!

 

Anyway, I digress before I’ve even started.  The main point of this post was to share the very inspiring ‘Conformation & Renewal’ highlights with you!  You may recall that last week I described the somewhat chaotic rehearsal for this event.  Fortunately, I can report that the real thing was much smoother – with only a couple of small hiccups.  Though the target service length of 1hr 20 mins was somewhat short of the mark, and it was almost a full 2hrs before we emerged blinking and triumphant into the sunshine.  Ah, sorry, getting carried away there……..that should read ‘emerged squinting and ready to dash into the pouring rain.’  Our brave little candles were no match for the howling wind and sloshing water and were extinguished as soon as the gusts around the church door reached them.  Even the Bishop was looking somewhat dishevelled – though the fact that he has short hair and a wacky range of colourful hats left him looking somewhat better groomed than others!!!!  No one apart from the Bishop seems to wear a hat to church any more, (except at Weddings).  I remember our Catholic church about 30 years ago being a positive sea of Mantillas (black, lace veils) and smart hats.  By contrast of course, men were required to remove hats.  Which never made a lot of sense to me – God being offended by men in hats, but pleased by women wearing them….

 

The ‘highlight’ of the Confirmation service was surely the sheer number of people in attendance – almost as many as for Midnight Mass at Christmas and the difference that volume makes to the singing and prayers – the feeling of support and sharing that comes from such a large congregation is very satisfying.  On an individual level, seeing 24 adults (including my lovely husband) and 6 youngsters getting confirmed and being one of a further 8 adults renewing their faith must surely count as one of the things I never expected myself to participate in, yet alone get a great deal of reward from.  The Lord certainly works in the most mysterious of ways. 

If I had to single one thing out about Christ Church, it would be the warmth of greeting that is offered to each and every attendee.  I have never felt so genuinely welcome in a church and it makes a whole lot of difference to my attitude!

Just to finish what I started, the weather remained wet, wet, wet and I received three separate soakings on Sunday!  2 in the churchyard and one walking the short distance round to join friends for one of the most enjoyable lunches I have had for a long time. The food and company were excellent – I think you know it’s been a good lunch when you head for home at 6.30pm!!!!!

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