Some may say that us vicars make a list each Sunday morning of those we plan to upset or irritate just to avoid being, as Bishop David Jenkins once said, 'The bland leading the bland.' Some vicars may indeed do that. I don't because the irritated and upset of this world almost inevitably blind-side me. Take yesterday. T'was a busy day and I was beginning by leading the 9.00 communion service at Holy Trinity. All went well and preaching was in the safe hands of new curate.
During the intercessions, at the end of one phrase, a woman in the second row gasped, so loudly that many heard it, including those of us at the front leading. What had I said to so offend? I carried on praying whilst reviewing. Tough thing to do. It is normally at this point that degook gets gobbled.
I had prayed for a debate that we would all have an opportunity to contribute to. Had I offended a retired English teacher who hated sentences ending with prepositions. Cut to Nottingham, 1987. I shout from the bedroom window into the garden:
'Come in out of the rain Jon.'
'It's not raining so there's nothing to come in up out of from...'
(He now teaches English. There is hope.)
At the door I challenge the woman. (Steve, you're weird, you mean you actually tried to find out what had upset her?)
Turns out my (in her opinion) mispronunciation of the word 'contribute' was the cause of the gasp. I'll add it to a list which includes white shoes, overhead projectors, not preaching directly on the resurrection on Easter Day, accidentally changing the gender of Potiphar and making a joke about the Mothers' Union.
Last night I consecrated the bread after people had eaten it. Not a word.
Next week I think I'll lead in Black Country dialect. Or perhaps Geordie.