From time to time I take the early communion at a particular neighbouring church. Over the years I have learned a number of things.
Often, on arrival, some people will be going crazy about something not very important (to me). Although I have to keep my wits about me because equally often something very important (to me) will not have been attended to.
Today I arrived fifteen minutes before the start. I find that if I arrive any earlier then I am somehow implicated in the things that have gone wrong.
I was greeted by the sound of a Church Warden on the phone, frustrated because nobody was answering. At the end of the call I was told the power wasn't working and perhaps a fuse had gone. This meant the PA was not able to be used. I noted that all the lights were on and walked slowly to the vestry to put my robes down. As I walked up the aisle I spotted that there was no president's Common Worship book on the communion table.
I have made it my business not to mirror the panic coming my way in this place and never to be distracted from my immediate task. Having reached the vestry and hung my robes I returned to the PA desk, walking deliberately slowly. It was demonstrated to me that the on/off switch was failing to make the little red lights come on. I followed the mains lead out of the back of the cabinet to the wall socket and switched on the power. Little red lights came on. Two comments were heard:
'That switch is not meant to be turned off.'
'I didn't know that switch existed; I've never seen it before.'
I waited until the last minute before enquiring if there was a communion president's copy for me to use. There was. 'I knew I'd forgotten something.'
The number of people requiring communion was over-stated by two. Counting to twenty-three is not that hard.
After the service the money-counters were trying to find a working pen in a drawer full of non-functional ones. My suggestion that the non-functional ones be not returned to the drawer was greeted with fascination at its ingenuity, yet caution at its workability without permission. I noted that when I placed last week's notice sheet from my stall in the vestry recycling box it was later examined by someone else to make sure I had not disposed of anything important. Perhaps all notice sheets are photocopied before recycling.
Pens, pens everywhere
Yet not a drop of ink...
Caused no mirth whatsoever.
On leaving I met the man who had been the recipient of the 8.15 'phone call. I do not think it was a new experience for him to be awoken with an enquiry about the PA.
I love this church.