Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday cheer

I may get depressed about the overall state of the church, but Sunday worship in our Parish even if it's tiring, usually lifts my spirits. I've got Chris Seaton, a ministerial student from St Michael's College Llandaff on placement with me for two terms. He started today. He's training as a minister in secular employment, supporting himself as an electrical engineer. He had fifteen years in the Merchant Navy, so he comes to ministry, with lots of life experience and a strong layman's faith still intact. It'll be great to have someone around who can see the situation through fresh eyes.

Over refreshments after the main Eucharist, I chatted to a man of retirement age who had attended the service and taken Communion. He turned out to be Orthodox, and had lived in the U.K. for most of his life (without ever losing his Greek accent). Normally, he attended St Nicholas Greek Church, just over the railway line, next to St Mary's Parish Church. But, for a change he'd decided to come to us.

He told me that he'd become acquainted with an older man - probably queuing in the shops in Canton - who was a Muslim. This man had quizzed him about Christianity, which had spurred him to acquire a Gospel text and a few other pamphlets from his church to offer the enquirer, who had been pleased to receive them, to help his exploration along. What did these two men have in common? Both spoke English with a foreign accent, had been born in another country and had settled here earlier in life. And that was sufficient for a little grass-roots interfaith dialogue to begin.

At the Tredegarville School Eucharist in the afternoon, churchwarden Jane made us smile. Since we've been worshipping in the school, Jane has started reading lessons regularly. In times past it had been only occasionally. As is often the case, the problem she has is not with reading as such - she's an avid reader - but reading confidently out loud. It's an acquired skill and needs lots of encouragement.

For the duration of my sick leave, Jane asked if she could have the Sunday readings in advance, both to print out for the others, and to practice. She ended up taking the leaflet into work - she's a baker and confectioner at Sainsburys - to ask advice on awkward pronunciations from one of her workmates, a Minister's wife. This led to her practising the readings in front of her colleagues during the tea-break to everyone's enjoyment. Now they're encouraging her to carry on practising at work. Who would have thought it?

Ah - the ways of the Spirit!

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