Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Monday, August 4

Continuing the search for the new life - church

still trying out churches in the place we plan to move to.

This weekend it was the big Anglican church in the centre of town.

In many ways it lived up to expectations (which wee low, based on the absence of anything outside communicating anyninidcation of spiritual life inside. The only poster was advertising a choir): the Sunday School had closed down for summer (why??), the singing was thin and inaudible, the liturgy was followed to the letter, etc. Probably not as dire as we feared, but certainly very little sign of people being in love with God - more of a middle class social gathering.

But, despite all of that, it was gooood, and I felt at home for the first time in ages. (The last two churches visited were charismatic independent churches, one meeting in a cinema with excellent contemporary worship and a good Sunday school, the other meeting in a rather grand hotel also with a good sunday school but very shouty)

It was good despite the fact that this church is really not up my street tehologically: I am evangelical, whereas this had strong catholic leanings. There was much talk of praying for the departed and offering a Eucharist for them. OK, it was the commenmoration of the start of the great war, hence tat emphasis, but it revealed what was there. The Rector, Fr N., wore his chasuble throughout. It was not a sung eucharist: only the collect was chanted. But many of the responses were led by the choir. That is to say that at the point where you were just about to launch passionately into declaring the response tere would be a pause, then the organ would start, and then the choir would sing the response to a tune which even the regular congregation were unable to join in. It might have been OK if the choir had been strong, but it was all rather feeble. I'm not saying I could ahve done it better, but I am saying that although I am all in favour of a bit of Anglican chant it has to support the worship not detract from it.

Towrds the end there was the war commemoration. We each had to place a stone on a cairn in the memorial chapel, and then light and hold a candle during the prayers. One had to be quite deft to hold the candle in such a way that it did not set light to the cardboard container. My daughter got scared and asked me to hold hers. So I was holding these two awkwaard, hot and dangerous things while my beard started to itch ..... so I was gald when it ended. But this part of the service was very good.

Afterwards we chatted to the Rector over coffee. we felt that the ord was in this conversation: a large part of our concerns reate to getting our daughter into a good school and the local church school is oversubscribed, but the rector gave us details to contact the headmaster. Not taht one should bypass the official procedures, but it just made us feel that God was leading the way. In the conversation it also came up taht I am a Reader, and he immediately suggested transferring my readership (which is of course not so straightforward as he made it sound) Also, that was before we admitted to being evangelicals, at which point he started recommending the local Pentecostal church. Not sure if he was trying to be helpful or get rid of us!

Anyway, the salient feature is that altough its not my kind of church theologically, I felt at home for the frist time in ages.

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