Some Sundays are just weird...
This morning was the nearest to flat that I've ever felt when presiding at the Eucharist. There was torrential rain just when people might have been setting out, so numbers were well down at both churches, the hymn selection didn't work for me (that's unusual - often I can't see in advance why a hymn has been chosen, but it hits the spot quite beautifully, but I guess I can't ever sing "Rock of ages" without mentally transporting myself to the crematorium - and though I value funeral ministry highly, it's not where I'd choose to be on a Sunday morning).Most probably, I was just plain tired after quite a demanding week. Whatever the reason, this morning's worship was at best "OK" and I was sad that it wasn't a shiney Sunday, as it was D's first day with us. He's exploring a vocation & has come to us to experience the harsh reality of an ordinary parish, as he normally worships somewhere rather exciting. Of course I wanted him to see us at our best (even though he isn't an OFCHURCH inspector, I don't seem to be able to help wanting to impress - even though I know full well that's not the point of it at all,at all)...
As we drove back from the Eucharist at Church on the Hill I said to him
"Well, that's probably as bad as it gets" and hoped devoutly that this was true.
This afternoon, though, was Messy Church - and suddenly everything was lovely.
Again, pouring rain worried me...would there be any children there at all?
Arrivals felt slow, - but by the time we were counting heads for supper there were 40 children and assorted carers, having a wonderful time (though not as much fun as me, I'm sure) doing bubble painting, wonderful aerodynamic enterprises with D, flame coloured streamers and all sorts of other delights.
When it came to our worship time, K started them singing "Deep and wide" and it was such fun as we all got tied up with the actions, missed out words and got faster and faster...Then it was my turn. We turned off as many lights as we could, and I lit the candles inside a bowl which we'd covered in flamey paper...I told the story of the first Pentecost, majoring on the work of the Spirit in filling us with love and courage to share Good News...told the children that the Spirit was for them too, and that they could share the Good News with one another. We lit one candle from those in the bowl, then the children very solemnly and silently passed the light one to another....it was amazing. Completely enthralled, silent, attentive....at the end, I'd planned to pray
"Come Holy Spirit...fill us with your love" but it seemed superfluous...The Spirit was so tangibly present it was almost surprising that the flames remained confined to the candles.
Later we had a splendid meal - take away pizza & v posh ice-cream, - the latter sponsored by a wonderful mum who was so happy to be able to give.
I really do think that Messy Church is doing what it sets out to...such a warm sense of community, of welcome and acceptance.
We had visitors from another church, who are considering the Messy Church model and it was very special to be able to share something that feels so full of God's own loving creativity.
And yes, I did need Messy Church to fly today - and am so thankful that it did.