Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Off to church

Before we left home a month ago I mused on my expectations about worship. Last Sunday, in a Methodist Church, I was not greatly rewarded:
We were invited to sing only one tune that was familiar to me. (And I was really uncomfortable with most of the theology in that!)
We were assailed with language that was grossly non-inclusive.
Everything seemed to assume that we accepted propositions that defied ordinary intelligence.
One “prayer” was a kind of lecture to the congregation about the worship leader’s views on God. (I didn’t agree with those, either).
The scripture for the day was briefly expounded in an astonishingly original way.
Beyond a brief list of prayer topics there was no mention of issues of social justice.

Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to be there. Had I known that this service was to be “Sunday Funday” I guess I might not have gone. But I had heard that this congregation made more than average use of lay leadership in worship so it seemed a good idea to visit it.
And, despite my miserly box-ticking above, something was going on. Here were two dozen people of all ages (but only one over 50), sharing in a participatory experience that was apparently fine by them. They engaged cheerfully with each other over banalities such as Do you prefer golf over tennis. They trooped out to the back room for a cup of tea and poster paints after only twenty minutes of “worship”. And then later they returned to the church and its immobile pews for the rest of the service.
After 90 minutes we were ready to move on. But this little congregation of presumably like-minded souls had done more than their duty. In their own way, they had cemented their joint life in Christ.
And they made us welcome. I guess that John Wesley might have wished to bring them under more discipline and scholarship but I think he would have respected their sincerity. So do I.

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