Readers may remember that here in CK we enjoy good relationships with the local Baptists, RCs and an independent Anglican fellowship. The ministers meet monthly for lunch in the ecumenical fair trade café, the congregations collaborate on a “church neighbours” scheme and one or two other projects in the community, and there are the inevitable joint Songs of Praise, Good Friday walk of witness and service during Christian Unity week.
This Friday, though, I feel we broke new ground!
As is our wont, my vicar and I had settled comfortably into the pslamody of Evening Prayer, when we were conscious of someone entering the Chapel. No surprise there. We are often joined by at least one other person, and I’d put out another book, open at the right place just in case she happened along late…but when another voice joined in with the responses it clearly wasn’t a “she” at all. Looking up, I recognised with pleasure Fr X from the Catholic church round the corner.
The Office wound peacefully through to its close, all of us glad to be there before God together. I assumed, as we’d had the ecumenical lunch earlier that day, that the vicar had arranged all this in advance with Fr X and he’d just been held up, but the story that emerged was far more entertaining.
Fr X had been about to settle down to say the Office in his own church when he realised that if he didn’t buy some tomatoes for his supper the shop would have closed. He set off for Somerfield, collected his tomatoes and a few other bits and made his way to the checkout, only to realise that he’d left his cash at home, which isn’t quite on the doorstep. A quick tour of the store revealed, unusually, none of his parishioners, and nobody else he knew well enough to borrow a fiver, so he went knocking on surrounding doors but everyone was out…
At this point he spied the curate cycling past en route, did he but know it, for evening prayer. He set off in hot pursuit but lost me when I went round to the vestry door and went downheartedly into church, planning to complete the Office himself on his own.
But there we were
And it was wonderful.
Wonderful to pray together as representative Christians in that place
Wonderful that the barriers that 20 years ago would have prevented an RC priest from even entering an Anglican church without special permission have now gone
And probably also wonderful that between us the vicar and I had enough cash to allow him to buy his tomatoes!