Monday, September 03, 2007

Teach me my God and King

in all things thee to see..."

So we sang at the last of our summer evening services, yesterday night. The choir returns next weekend and Evensong resumes - which will be lovely too, but these reflective services in the chapel have had a special feel to them, and provided a rare opportunity to engage in some slightly more creative liturgy.
Yesterday, though, the challenge of practising what I preached was pretty well beyond me. "All things...?" Humph.

I've been on duty as relief chaplain for the hospitals for one last weekend. The chaplaincy department is now at full-strength again, so this ministry is ending for me. I've loved and valued it hugely...and this weekend was no exception - though call-outs did play havoc with my readiness for Sunday worship.
Still, it would all be OK.
I was presiding at the 10.00, so nothing extra to prepare for that. The Baptism at 12.30 flowed along familiar liturgical lines, and young G seemed perfectly content to have a strange woman pour water over him.
OpenHouse was scheduled as a celebration of baptism, so we had invited the 100 or so families whose children we'd baptised over the past 3 years - and a good number of them actually appeared.
Except that at 3.50, as the church filled up, and toddlers began to run in all directions, the data projector died.
Just. Like. That.
One moment it was happily displaying our "Welcome" slide.
The next

Hugger Steward is pretty expert in techie things, and what P can't mend is probably not worth mending...but they laboured to no avail.
And everthing,-every word of the songs,every response,the lovely images I had searched for to provide a visual focus for our prayers-everything was lost.

"In all things thee to see..???"
Well, not really.
I was much too busy panicking.
I did have one print-out of the slides, designed to help the lap-top guys know when to move, what was coming next, so WonderfulVicar did a quick dash to the parish office and produced some photocopies of this,and people were hugely patient and tolerant and lovely - but it was so so sad. All those families who'd not tried us since the baptism, there in church for the service we'd assured them was completely child-friendly and accessible,-and they had to field several sheets of paper,and meet flustered, distracted clergy...and...oh dear, really.

Things could have been worse, of course.
The activities - face-painting a cross on each other's foreheads to remember the "invisible nametape" of baptism,floating a tea light for each child in the paddling pool before we prayed for them,and the amazing MU tea were all a success- but I was still left with a distinct taste of "could do better".
I'm wondering what I should or could have done to prepare for this cataclysm.
I really believe that projections are the best way of working with OpenHouse. It means that parents juggling toddlers have their hands free,that there is always something for the children to look at, even when we're praying, and in a church where sight lines are tricky it means that when something is going on at the front (lighting and floating those tea lights, for e.g) there's something for those waiting to engage with. But it's alot to expect of any medium sized church that they have not one but two projectors, just in case.So I'm not sure what I've learned from all this.

However, I do know where to look for God in the experience, because, you see, an angel turned up. I'd muttered hysterically that though OpenHouse might be bad, the Evening service would be worse.I was relying heavily on images of Ch Kings as we took our turn at reflecting on Heaven in Ordinary, so M, the wonderful woman who runs junior church, got on the phone and a colleague from the junior school broke into the last Sunday afternoon before term starts in order to collect the school's projector and bring it down to church.
She arrived in time for tea, though I'm not sure she got any. She did, though, get a hug and a halo...I'm sure of that.

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