Thank you sooo much, anyone who found time to pray for our OpenHouse service yesterday….
I was rather fraught in advance, as I was out of the parish on a CME day (at which I was also supposed to be giving a presentation about the things I value most in my tradition as a Catholic Anglican,- more of that another time, perhaps),a key member of the OpenHouse team was unlikely to be there, TeenWonder (music man) was having to hurry back from doing lights for a school play…and there are always lots of fiddly bits, visual aids, baptism candles and the like to gather beforehand…not to mention really important things like ensuring that the Mothers Union can get into the vestry to sort out tea. OpenHouse just isn't a nice straightforward, no risk sort of service.
So, I spent odd moments throughout the morning wondering what crucial thing I had forgotten, left CME early (too early to say my piece: many many apologies, T…I didn’t intend to drop you in it) and by 3.45 was indulging in my monthly “Nobody will come…” twitch.
But they did. It was a beautiful afternoon, so we had the west doors fully open and it would really not be exaggerating unduly to say that children poured through them.
More families than ever, including some who had brought friends along, 3 recently baptised babes who were given their candles and certificates, and what feels very much like a group of regulars (none of whom were part of our church family 9 months ago). All in all, we had a lovely, lovely time.
As I told you, we were working with the Emmaus story, and talking about recognising Jesus when we meet him in unexpected places. We broke bread (a huge French stick, for maximum visual impact) and shared it, while we sang "Be still" quietly.
We investigated a few visual puzzles where things might be hidden, and everyone went home with a bookmark to remind them that Jesus is walking beside them.
Each month we end the service with a rampage of children, percussion and a few brave adults snaking our way up and down the aisles, filling our rather well behaved church with noise, colour and joy…when I looked behind me yesterday, the line of children was so long that it stretched from the head of the north aisle, across the width of the church and right down to where I stood at the far end of the south aisle. I recognised Jesus, then. He was beside the little girl struggling to manage a tambourine, a possessive big sister and an impressively bandaged hand…who giggled her way right round the church.
He wasn’t actually walking. He was dancing, I’m sure of it.