These Sundays I’m working with the Church Army captain on a very relaxed, informal sort of service in the hall, available to people who don’t normally come to church and who find formal services not only intimidating but also impenetrable.
They are not Communion services, for obvious reasons. I’m very happy to support him in this venture, but it does mean I miss being able to take Communion. So I decided to pop into the church nearest me this Wednesday and take part in their mid-week Eucharist.
I sat down with the others, feeling rather out of sorts. You know, one of those days when you aren’t at home with yourself, when everything seems irritating, when you have a shedload of stuff to do that you don’t feel like doing.
What I needed most was some P and Q before the service began. I hate it when people all round me gossip loudly within earshot. It’s incredibly distracting. So when the woman in the pew in front turned round and started talking to the guy at the end of my row, I froze. Arrgghh! My teeth were on edge.
Then she said to him ‘when we pray, I think we are in contact with God spiritually. But when I think, that’s not really contact with God – that’s me working things out in my own head.’
I was riveted. What an interesting idea. I waited with bated breath to see how the bloke would respond. He was a big guy in shorts and boots, who might be relied on to dismiss this as emotional nonsense.
He paused for a minute. Then he said ‘When I was working as an engineer, I would sometimes come across a problem I didn’t know how to solve. I would say my prayers at night, and the next day it was funny how often the solution came to me.’
I loved this dialogue. It cheered me up immensely, and I forgot my angst and settled into the service.
Lord have mercy – I’m not only a sinner, sometimes I’m an idiot too.