Monday, 7 July 2014

Making MY Mark

Last week, my mummy became something called a Cur-ate.  I don't really know what one of those is but for some reason, she now wears this odd white thing round her neck and seems to spend ALL of her time in church.  So I started thinking, it's probably quite helpful if I get to know the place a little bit better myself, you know - make my mark.  I wouldn't want anyone to forget that I'm there too.

On Sunday morning, I had as usual been forced to drag MummyDaddy out of bed.  I honestly don't know why they want to sleep in for quite so long, after all, it was light and the birds were singing, clearly it was a beautiful day!  I bounced into their room shouting, "Hurro!" and heard a distinct, "whooof" as I jumped onto Daddy's belly.  I squirmed in between MummyDaddy and started singing a lovely good morning song (one of my favourites: heads and shoulders, knees and toes - there's even actions, it's a great way to start the day!)  

"Mummy, why are you groaning?  It's a beautiful day!"

"Baby, it's 4:00 in the morning!" came the muffled response.  

"Yes Mummy, you got that right - morning!  Mummy, why are you hiding your head under the pillow?  Don't you know that you're supposed to sleep on top of your pillow?  Mummy, why are you groaning?  Daddy?  Would you like to play with me?  Daddy???"

It took quite some time, but eventually I managed to drag them out of bed by sheer persistence and that meant I could get started with my plan.  Daddy got me dressed in some very strange clothes - just like the night before when we went to the biiiiiiiiig church, he pulled out my little waistcoat and tie.  He just about managed to get it onto me the right way round before his eyes started to close and he groaned some more.

"What's the matter Daddy?  Are you sick?  Daddy, are we going with Mummy to church this morning?  Daddy?  Daddy?  Hmmm.  Daddy, why are you snoring?  Shall I poke you?  Daddy?"

A few hours later, I had finally tugged, pulled and pushed MummyDaddy into some semblance of readiness and it was time to go.  Mummy drove separately as she needed to be there early and a little while later, Daddy arrived in church with me and my big brother in tow.   We sat down on those funny wooden chairs and waited.  After a few minutes, I tugged on Daddy's sleeve.

"Daddy, have you forgotten something?  Daddy?  I always have nice snacks when we're in this place. Daddy, where's my snacks?"

Daddy, recognising the wisdom of keeping my mouth occupied, pulled out my special box of church snacks.  "Daddy, what's in the box today?  Ooooo!!!!  Pringles!  I LOVE Pringles!"  I sat down to munch contentedly and kept a careful eye out for Mummy in her funny dress.

Eventually, Mummy came in along with lots of other people and they all sat down at the front of church.  They said some words - lots of words - the people stood up and sat down again.  We sang some songs and Mummy's boss did lots of talking before everyone stood up and sat down again.  I only squirmed a little bit but thankfully, Daddy had a big stock of Pringles to help keep me occupied.  

Then it was time for the best part of the service - Mummy and her boss went up to the big table at the front of church and Mummy's boss arranged the pretty cups and plates on it.  We listened for a while as he explained what he was doing and he held up the dishes, just to show everybody that they really were there.  Then all of the people slowly started walking towards the front of the church.  They knelt down on some nice red cushions and Mummy's boss gave all of them a little drink and something to eat which I thought was very nice because after all, it was a long service and they must have been thirsty.  I waited very patiently for my turn but when Mummy and her boss got to me, instead of giving me my snack, just like everybody else, he put his hand on top of my head and said some nice words.  Well, it was all very nice but you see, I could see that he was holding a big plate of something that really looked an awful lot like more Pringles and I.wanted.some.  Just like lightening, I reached for the plate and grabbed a whole BIG handful of the pretty white crisps.

I was fast, but unfortunately, my Daddy was faster.  He grabbed my little hand just as Mummy's boss whisked the plate out of my reach and they all pried my clenched fist away from my snack.  

I was not impressed.

No really, I WANTED my snack.

Everybody else has been given a lovely nice snack and I see no reason why I shouldn't have my share.


Rather red faced, Daddy removed my small self from the front of the church.

"Adam, that is NOT Pringles!" Daddy hissed.  


****  Seven Days Later ****

Today, Daddy decided to take me to a different service in church.  This one meant we had to get ready and out of the house very early, but apparently it was a shorter service and so Daddy thought I shouldn't be able to cause quite so much mischief.  

"Hah!  Oh how naive you are Daddy!"

I sat on Daddy's lap while everyone waited for church to start.  It was very, very quiet.  I looked around and planned my first move.  What could I do to liven things up a little bit?

Aha!  It was then that I spied it - just beside Daddy was a lovely big, metal radiator.  I decided that it would make a *perfect* drum.  I gave it an experimental little tap, then a whack, then I made sure Daddy's octopus skills were well honed as he tried to contain my small, squirming body while I reached for my drum again and again.  

Mummy was sitting at the front again, wearing her funny dress, but she was very determinedly not making eye contact with me.  I'm not sure why.

After a little while, I decided what we really needed was a little bit of musical accompaniment so I began to hum quietly to myself - at least, I think it was quiet.  I know Daddy tried to shush me, but he was probably just being overly sensitive.  By this point, they'd gotten to that bit where everyone goes up to the front again but Daddy was being very careful to hold onto both of my little hands as Mummy's boss approached us.  Just like last week, he put his hand on top of my head and said some nice little words.  I sat on the big red cushion and stared up at him.  As we returned to our seats, Daddy breathed a sigh of relief but I wasn't nearly so contended.  

I was bored.

I started to fidget.

Then I wriggled.

Then I squirmed.

I looked up at the front and saw Mummy's boss cleaning the cups and plates on the table.

"Daddy, WHY is Mummy's boss doing the washing up?  Does he have to polish that cup?  It's really a very pretty cup, but Daddy, I don't understand what's going on and it really seems to be taking a very long time.  Daddy, do you think it would help if I sang a song to jolly things along a little?"

Daddy gave me The Look.

The thing is though, Daddy's Look just isn't as powerful as Mummy's Look, so basically, I ignored it....and I burst into song.


Yup, that definitely woke things up.  Heads were spinning in my direction.  Excellent - would you like a second verse?

I took a deep breathe and....


By this point, I had clearly succeeded in getting Mummy's attention.  She was sitting at the front of church, staring at the floor and doing her level best not to laugh.  It wasn't working very well.  Some of the nannies and granddad's who were in church were smiling too so I kept right on going.  I managed to get through four whole verses before Mummy's boss finished his washing up.  

I thought I might get in trouble but thankfully, Mummy's boss clearly appreciates the finer points of a beautiful song because he looked over at me from his place behind the table and said, "Well, that was a lovely song.  Thank you very much Adam!"

I heard a muffled snort from Mummy as her shoulders shook.  

"Mummy, do you think it was a lovely song?  Would you like me to come to church with you more often Mummy?  Mummy, aren't you glad you're working in church now?  It's wonderful having me here isn't it?  Mummy, If you like, I could I sing a little bit more.....?"

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Time to go back to Vicar School...?

This morning, I led Morning Prayer for the first time as a Curate.  Now this isn't the first time I've led the Office so it really shouldn't have been a big deal - I pretty much knew what to say and when to say it...after all, we in the Anglican Church do have a pretty much word for word script - what could possibly go wrong?  

Famous last words...

Things we all going along quite swimmingly for a while, I'd managed to get through the opening prayers and canticles, I'd announced which Psalms we were reading and I'd even remembered to pause for a moment at the little dots in between verses.  We had even gotten through the scripture readings - even if the poor man who read the Old Testament lesson did seem *rather* relieved to get to the end of the excerpt from Judges (the bit about tent pegs and temples rather finished him off - he couldn't quite bring himself to say, "this is the word of the Lord" at the end of it!).

But all too soon, we came to the Prayers of Intercession.  Now I'd done my homework, I'd watched the news last night and this morning just to make sure I knew what was going on in the world in case there was anything in particular we needed to pray for.  I'd made a few little mental notes of things that seemed important.  I'd had a look through the various prayer lists we have in church for this purpose to make sure all the requests were covered.  I was all set.  Or so I thought.

In the Anglican Church, we pretty much have a set framework for prayers of intercession, just to keep us on track - so we pray for the world and it's needs, we pray for the worldwide church along with ones closer to home in our own diocese, we pray for areas of need in our country and community, we pray for those who are sick and have asked us to do so and we pray for the families of those people who have died and so are grieving.  Finally, we pray for ourselves and our own needs (just to make sure we don't over inflate our own importance in the grand scheme of things).  It's pretty comprehensive really but also pretty straightforward.  

I got as far as, "let us pray..." and it was gone.  Completely and totally *gone*.  

"Hang on," my brain fluttered, "Do we pray for ourselves first?  Yeah, yeah that sounds like a good idea.  Us first, right ok, onwards!"  

I screwed up in spectacularly entertaining fashion - I mixed up the order, completely forgot the main areas I wanted to remember in prayer, and entirely missed out the little scripted prayers that are always included.  Like for example, after we remember those who have died and their families who mourn them, we always pray: "Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them."  See?  I know it, really I do!  We pray this prayer all the time!  But was it there when I needed it?  Nope.  Gone completely.  So I prayed for the families, stuttered to a stop and then, having no option, ploughed onto other things.  At the end of this section of the prayer time, we always pray (as a way of encouraging those attending to join in and rounding things off) "Merciful Father, accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, amen."  Was that one there?  Nope, away with the fairies.  Gone completely.

But it gets better (or worse depending on your perspective...)

After this, we pray "The Collect" (a set prayer designed to "collect" our thoughts together and join them with others who are also praying at that time) and then we all join together in a reasonably well known prayer.  It's one almost everyone who has ever had any contact at all with the church knows.  It's one even some people who have had very little contact with the church know - especially if, like me, they were of the generation where it was said daily in schools.  Which prayer am I referring to?  Yup, I'm sure you must have guessed it by now:

The Lord's Prayer.

The Prayer that Jesus gave us.

The Prayer that I have been saying since I was around five years old, if not younger.

The Prayer that we say at some point during every single Anglican service.  Every single one.  Never go without.

I know this prayer.  No really, I KNOW this prayer.

No, apparently I don't.

"Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us..." I announce...and my brain stutters to a stop.  Confidence?  What confidence?  I don't have any confidence!  Confidence, Hah!  I skittered around and panicked.

"What comes next?  Brain?!  WHAT comes next????  I pause for a moment of entirely holy reflection.  BRAIN, WHAT COMES NEXT??????"

"Our Father...."  I say, feeling very proud - excellent remembered that bit.  Easy peasy.  No problem, I can DO this.

Nope, false alarm.



Complete and total blank.

I do not remember the prayer that Jesus taught us.

Thankfully, the other five people in the room (two of whom were of course experienced, ordained clergy...) clearly did remember the prayer and so started to murmur it.  

"Aaaah!  Excellent!'  My brain muttered to itself.  "Just follow THEIR lead...everything will be fiiiiiiiiine.....

....or perhaps not."

You see, there are generally two well-known versions of The Lord's Prayer - in older language (Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name...) and the more contemporary wording which drops the 'Thee's" and "Thou's".  

So at this point, my fluttery little brain decided to take a wholly inclusive approach and it combined the two versions at random and equally alternating intervals.  It spit out a line's worth of "thee's" and "thou's"  then decided that was far too formal an approach so it was much better to take a contemporary stance....then changed it's mind again and returned to the eighteenth century as being clearly FAR preferable.

The poor people trying to pray along with me just about worked out that I was following the old language and joined in accordingly, round about the time my brain decided to have a little swap around, whereupon they gamely returned to the modern version, just about the time I decided I much preferred the other one.  Eventually, we were all managing to say something ever so slightly different and ensuring that we were completely out of time and out of sync.  

Have you ever tried to pray a communal prayer with everyone saying something slightly different, at different times and at a different pace while everyone gainfully tries to listen to everyone one else while also actually remembering to keep praying themselves?  The result is excruciatingly polite chaos.

By the time we got to the end of the Office, I stood to blow out the candles and apologised profusely.  Thankfully, everyone was very gracious about it.  But I think next week, I might just bring a crib sheet...or maybe I need to go back to Vicar School for just a little bit more training.  Was there a module on The Lord's Prayer?  Did I miss it?!  

I mean seriously, what kind of Vicar (or Deacon, or Curate...) forgets The Lord's Prayer?!

Apparently, this one does, and it's only day three.  #facepalm

Are you sure you want to give me that license Mr Registrar?
It might not be the best idea you've had today...