Thursday, December 04, 2008

Nativity blessing

Yesterday, my good neighbour Pastor Denzil John of Tabernacle Baptist sent me a copy of a prayer he'd written, a prayer of intercession for those caught up in binge drinking. It was opportune to include this in a brief order of service devised for tonight's blessing of the outdoor nativity scene, along with prayers for the homeless. Then, this morning I emailed a copy with explanation to one of the 'Echo' reporters who takes an interest in city centre affairs, and soon got a positive response, with a request for Denzil's contact details. The thought of getting a little publicity for our brief ecumenical Christmas act of worship and witness was irresitible. And Denzil, as it turned out, was pleased to be asked.

When it came time to leave home to go to church, I couldn't find my backpack with my bike lights in, so I had to walk briskly, being unwilling to risk riding unlit on an evening when there were hundreds of cars and people in the avenue between home and church, assembling for the start of the Wales stage of the GB Motor Rally. Such a miscalculation made me late, and the band was not a little fed up at the delay in getting into church to warm up and have a cuppa, but we were able to start on time nevertheless.

About two dozen people representing all the churches, thankfully, arrived to join with the band of Grangetown Salvation Army Corps. No press - but I didn't really expect this at such short notice. I just want people around the city to know what we're doing, and take encouragement from it. As we began, the rain fell and the wind blew, so after the opening hymn and crib blessing, we retired inside the church tower base, which was just sufficient to accommodate the band and the congregation, for the remainder of the service.

Just as Captain Eric Smith began to read the nativity Gospel, that 'prehistoric garbage truck' (to quote Mark Knopfler) arrived for its noisy evening round, and stopped right outside while the wheelie bins were brought to it. Then a food delivery truck arrived and there was a fair amount of annoyed beeping and manouvering that went on, just twenty feet from where we were singing and praying, almost, but not quite, drowned out.

Then to crown it all, a lady in the corner fainted, came around, carried on singing, fainted again, and so on. I was hardly aware of this until someone called out during the singing of 'Silent Night' indicating the need for a chair, which meant going into church and hunting for one - they're all kept as far away from the door as can be - so it took longer than it need. Must remember to ensure an emergency chair is kept at the back in future. As we were nearing the end of the service, I thought it better to continue although distracted, to conclusion, rather than stop and have a situation where nobody knew what to do next or what was happening. There were several women supporting the afflicted lady, including a teenage first-aider among the Salvation Army members present - we shared their pride in this. A few minutes after we concluded, an ambulance showed up and she was taken off to hospital.

Even so, despite all the calamities of the night, we all toughed it out in a way the Salvation Army are more used to than the rest of us. We made our witness, and I managed to get some video footage to edit into another little record of a moment in our 'Season of Good Will' project. A lot more work is needed on the footage, but the rough cut is again posted on the project web page.

No comments: