Monday, October 27, 2014

General Ignorance

If the three possible ways of going wrong are ignorance, weakness and deliberate fault, I have a marginal personal preference for ignorance. I have indeed found ignorance a much misunderstood skill in ministry.

For instance, I am way smart enough to learn to operate a sound desk, but I have never done so. Likewise the computer projection system in our church. I remain profoundly ignorant. I am never called upon to solve problems with these items, both of which would distract me from the more important work (for me, not in the whole scheme of things) of praying and readying myself to preach or lead a church service.

I can also fall back on the excuse of ignorance when forced to do something which I get wrong. I can either learn to do it right next time or, and this I prefer, the press-ganger can learn never to ask me again.

A few months back I was assisting at a service when our Archdeacon was visiting. Nobody had arrived to set up communion. This is another area where my ignorance is deep.

When people ask me how they should set up communion for me (a question often asked when I am the visiting president at another church) my reply is always 'However you normally do it.' If this is followed up by 'We wouldn't want to do it in a way that would be difficult for you', I quietly explain that that would not be possible, I have no preferences whatsoever about positioning of elements, books and thing. If pushed I often crack and tell the sacristan, or server, or whatever that church calls the setter-upper, to try and upset me and betting that they can't. I cannot say this strongly enough. There is not, for me, a right way to do communion but if there is for you I will try my hardest to do it your way.

So I asked the Archdeacon the question I often get asked. 'Is there any particular way you would like this set up?' He told me what I tell everyone else, to do it as I usually do it.

It may come as a bit of a surprise to many of you ordained readers but apart from my first curacy I have never regularly set-up a communion and I do not have a usual way. I am also unfamiliar with any legalities.

So I put the stuff out in a way with which I would be personally happy and then got this response:

'I think you will find a lot of people will be upset if you do not put everything on a fair, white, linen cloth.'

Really? I could not imagine being upset at this and, although Anglicans have the capacity to become turmoiled rather easily, couldn't think of a single person who might moan. This is probably one of the several hundred reasons why I am not an archdeacon.

I did it again and hope the Archdeacon learned never to ask me again. You can wipe wine stains off the varnished communion table at this particular church, but bio-detergents are necessary to clean a no-longer fair, or white, linen cloth. Ain't that a bit daft?

Ignorance really is bliss. Embrace it.

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