Tuesday, May 22, 2012

No Sense of Direction

I don't have a great sense of the ceremonial so this is more a how-it-felt post than a what-to-do. But hear me out.

Last night I went to the induction service for a new Team Vicar in the Yatton Moor Team Ministry. It is good to turn out to welcome new clergy and I do so whenever possible. The invitation placed our robing in the Newton Chapel and a kind sidesperson pointed me there on arrival. For those who know their church layout it was in the north-east corner.

At the start of the event those of us who were robing had been given no idea where we were going to sit eventually but the reassuring presence of a verger to follow was enough. We embarked upon the processional hymn with a slight sense that we might be taken somewhere helpful and not the undercroft. Robing normally guarantees you a good seat.

Out of the side chapel we went and down the south aisle to the west end. We turned left and left again and walked up the main aisle where we were stopped in turn to reverence the altar (evangelicals will use the phrase 'bow unnecessarily' at this point).

Still no seats. Must be in the Chancel. Then, instead of walking either side of the communion table, we turned left again (those paying attention will realise we are now on the home straight of a complete lap) and then turned right back into the Newton Chapel from whence we had come three minutes earlier. Then we took another right through a small gap and arrived at our seats, behind the communion table and Bishop, three metres from where we had started.

Because it is a Team Ministry there were five sets of church wardens to accompany processions. I have seen fewer sticks at a Harry Potter convention. The service progressed as expected and as we reached the finale and blessing it occurred to me that we might have to do the same again in reverse at the end. A chuckle began to get hold of me.

We did not get moved during the final hymn so I thought we might have got away with it. Then the organ struck up, the black-clad, stick-bearing verger re-appeared and we went into the outskirts of the Newton Chapel. We could indeed have turned right and disrobed but turned left, left and then right to go back down the main aisle, were halted at the crossing (give way to traffic from the south) to give priority to the choir (who had stalls in the south-east corner) and were then led south, west, north and east (passing tantalisingly close to the buffet but we were not allowed to duck out) and back into the Newton Chapel.

The service normally lasts an hour but a new incumbent, not wanting to miss anyone off the thank-you list (quick tip - people need food more than thanks at these things), and ten minutes of processing, extended the time to eighty minutes.

I apologise for the expression on my face during the final procession. I had a hankie in my mouth.


Greenpatches said...

Marvellous. IMO this post is up there along with Adrian Plass's "Comunion Conga" as a perfect illustration of the daffiness of the dear old C of E.

RuthJ said...

Absolutely agree with Greenpatches.

Mind you, as one born totally minus a sense of direction, I do feel the need of someone to explain how you could exit from a north-east chapel and proceed down the south aisle. Maybe you had to be there to understand.

St said...

Good spot Ruth. It was in the south-east corner.

Marcella said...

Laughed out loud, which was much needed, thank you!