When visitors are coming, I have a go at tidying up, and sorting those things I’ve been meaning to sort for ages, and which I’m convinced the visitors will spot unless I clean/mend/put them away. Of course, they probably spot all sorts of other things that I’m completely oblivious to. And if they are nice, as they always are, they never say anything.
But perhaps they should, and then my eyes would be opened. It was this thought that led Andrew Frearson, Rector of St James, Dollar, and I to do a ‘Sunday swap’ to have a look at each other’s place. We are a friendly lot in our ‘Area Council ‘ – the local Episcopal congregations, and we trust each other well. So it was not too scary a prospect. Even so, I made sure the service books were properly sellotaped and the heating on 10 minutes earlier and some of the inexplicable detritus of church life tucked out of sight in the office.
We haven’t met up yet to compare notes, so I don’t know what Andrew found or saw or heard or felt. I know that at Dollar it felt like a holiday – a real freedom to worship by leading worship without the background awareness of all the things that require ‘housekeeping’ concern. The space was another thing – or rather the lack of it (relative to the big barn that is Holy Trinity) in the sanctuary, where I had to be careful not to knock things over as I went around the altar. But I felt closer to people. And people really sang the hymns, which was great.
Both St James and Holy Trinity are engaged in the ‘Casting the Net’ audit of church life in our diocese, and ‘Worship that renews and inspires’ is one of the Marks of Mission that we are measuring ourselves against. When we get together, I expect we’ll have to put aside some of the ‘nice’ bit and say what we really thought. ‘Speaking the truth in love’. Where is the metaphorical dust or worse behind the fridge at Holy Trinity?