The best laid plans

It’s quite odd being between churches. I wanted to go to church today. I didn’t want to go where I am known, so last night I decided to go to the Cathedral. When I woke up this morning I decided to go to a different Cathedral, service slightly earlier, travelling slightly longer.  So off I journeyed, looking forward to anonymity, peace and singing. This first paragraph already documents enough changes of mind for regulars to recognise that my mind is well and truly over-occupied, mainly with matters domestic.

Predictably enough in a city I don’t know very well, half the car parks were apparently shut, and the other half were on the wrong side of town. So having parked, I started walking.  Ye gods and little fishes, the wind was perishing cold. And then I saw a (to me, curious) sight. There was a church*. And there was a man standing outside, shaking hands with people and greeting them as they entered.

I had driven some miles, and passed several churches on my way, in order to worship at the Cathedral. I walked three paces beyond, thought “stuff this” and turned back, had my frozen hand shaken, was smiled at, welcomed, and gently thrust inside.

Thank God.

Thank God for a warm welcome, a clear liturgy, the official welcomer who let me pray, then wandered over and said “I don’t think I’ve seen you before???” but didn’t linger for ages. Thank God for hymns I knew, and hymns I didn’t, and for the lovely people afterwards who asked if I was interested in joining the choir. Thank God for a sermon well preached (no notes), very context specific, but of enough relevance to me to keep me engaged. Thank God for an invitation to coffee, people to chat to, and even some questions answered.

Thank God for space and time with God, and for encouragement offered by Christians in a very different context to mine. Thank God for the Christian family.

But most of all, thank God for the plans we lay, nurture and try to put into practice, and thank God they fall apart.

 

*I haven’t identified the church. It met a particular need I had today. If you want to know where it was please tweet me @clairemaxim1

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3 responses to “The best laid plans

  1. Sounds a bit like my new parish. I’ve been there since December 25th and now about 60 or 70 people know my name and greet me. I’m still in the putting names to faces stage 😦

    But the welcome is solid, people meet, greet, help you with books and if new, tell you what’s going to happen and generally make it comfortable welcome without intrusion.

    After the main service, most people congregate for a chat and a cup of tea and cake or biscuits and a chat. I’ve got to know some people who are friendly and willing to share their stories and to listen to mine. I’m helped that the Vicar and Church wardens are proactive in letting people know who I am, how I’ve arrived and what I might be doing (in addition to the stuff that I’ve already been rota’d for 🙂

    This is the first parish that I’ve been in that mission has been mentioned more than once in a sermon and where people actually talk about it in a thinking way. Perhaps I’ve just led a sheltered life, but it’s refreshing that a well attended church (av 25 for 8 am) and 70 plus for main services and with a good midweek attendance pattern as well, seem willing to engage with ideas. I’ve not experienced having so many involved in voluntary roles in a parish – it seems that many are willing to serve in different ways, some multiple, but most doing one thing as part of a team effort.

    You might be able to tell – that I’m thoroughly enjoying being where I am and that the simplicity of one parish with one priest (one or two others help out) just makes sense and seems to thrive in this urban village that we are. We might be urban, but people identify with the area, the community and the 6 churches within short walking distance of each other. CofE, Methodist, Baptist x 2, Icthis and another which I haven’t quite got my head around, who all work together very well indeed. The village is split into an Upper and Lower, the lower one has it’s own CofE Parish, which happens to be FiF, but still seems to work very well in the lower part of the village with their fellow churches.

    We still struggle like others for financial resources as the fabric of the church is suffering, but stewardship initiatives and fund raising is imaginative and so far, they’ve managed to keep the fabric in good order although there is still a few thousands needed for more.

    I’d call this a healthy church, with Kingdom building central to it’s mission and ethos and grace allowing it to do great work in the local area – God be praised that he drew me here.

  2. Not going to blow their cover, but their service sheet shows that at Communion they had the same music our PJs sang as the Gradual today 😉

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