Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Get Back in the Box - Part 2

It's been two days now and I need to confess. Be ready with the absolution please brothers and sisters.

I wrote this last Sunday morning. If you didn't read it you need to do so now for the rest of this post to make sense.

By 8.25 a.m. I had got my head together and my musical instruments and papers ready for transport to church. I was cutting an orange into neat segments with a Motown backing track. The 'phone rang.

Early Sunday morning 'phone calls are never good.

'Hello Steve; aren't you supposed to be at Christ Church?'

Now my reply was obvious, 'No.' If I was meant to be at Christ Church I would have been at Christ Church. That's what I do. I check the rota. I'm supposed to be at Christ Church. At 8.30.

So while I shout a few instructions about the transport of electric pianos to the human battery who is my partner (she's ever-ready) I wash, dress, grab a lectionary (don't ask), drive two miles and arrive so that by the time of the epistle I have sneaked in the vestry door and am trying to work out what sort of service I have arrived at in order to preach and preside.

It's either CW2 or CW2 (contemporary). I read the Gospel. In my pause for breath David (the Reader who has coped with part 1) announces the creed. Modern(ish) language. So it must be CW2 (contemporary) then.

I stand. I am wearing the robes of a taller man. My radio mic receiver falls off my belt and I can't find a gap in the cassock through which to recover it. I try harder. I look like I'm no stop don't go there.

A sermon. Hmm. I think I praised the idea of preaching without preparation from time to time, a few posts back. That'll teach me. Still, if I can't preach on humility having been taken down a peg or ten by forgetting a whole congregation, when can I preach that? I segue through forgetfulness, manners and end up in Philippians 2 and the one who emptied himself taking the form of a servant. It's OK but perhaps a few minutes over-long. Sorry I preached a long sermon; I didn't have time to preach a short one, to paraphrase Mark Twain on letter-writing.

Somewhere my memory finds the skills necessary to stand in the right place to receive collection, offer absolution and perform consecration.

I think the great computer crash of three weeks back has its first real victim - an email taking me up on the offer to be available today if necessary. If I'd checked the rota I'd have known that.

I apologise to everyone as they leave. No-one is unkind.

Within twenty minutes, having consumed the fruit I was preparing to keep some sugar in the system, I am setting up a keyboard in order to lead musical worship at Trendlewood's all-age service. Poorly. Although I might have got away with it at the time, but I know.

I shaved and showered before heading off to my sister's for lunch where the Cotswold air and family vibe was totally cathartic.

Now it's Tuesday I can laugh. Hope you can. Twice in twenty six years I've forgotten a service. But I'm getting better. Last time I never made it at all. Still, mea maxima culpa.


Dennis said...

Reminds me of the occasion when I was sitting in a pew, quietly expectant, ready for the service to commence when the vicar gently reminded me that I was supposed to be leading the service . . . can't remember what happened next.

Doug Chaplin said...

I did once find a parishioner on the doorstep leaning on my doorbell. A bleary-eyed and be-dressing-gowned me tried explaining to her that the clocks had gone back. She explained smartly to me that they'd gone forward.