Saturday, 15 November 2008

Z would rather be Mary than Martha

Oh, this is interesting. I received the hymn numbers for tomorrow morning at 4 pm, which is a bit later than I can be bothered to go down to the church to practise. You may (or may not) know that my piano is living away from home at present. Four hymns, three of them unfamiliar to me - but then, that doesn't necessarily mean that the tunes are. I couldn't find my music copy, so looked up the words. One by Graham Kendrick. Okay. I don't know it then (that is, anything by GK that I know, I know I know). Another dates from 1978. Don't know that one. Another is mid-Victorian - well, at least I'll be able to sight-read it then. The fourth is Make me a channel of your peace and I'm on sure ground there.

Pondering over this and other church-related things while I was heating soup, I remembered that I'd turned off the heating after the 8am service last week, as the Remembrance Sunday service was elsewhere, and I'd not turned it on again. So, after dinner, I left my final [unless I change my mind ;-) ] glass of wine unfinished after dinner and pedalled busily off to turn it on again. Whilst there, I fetched the hymn book. So, Even As I Write, I am about to look at these unfamiliar hymns and see if there's a hope in heaven of playing them. (Live Blogging!!(!))

1 The GK looks okay. 3/4 time always runs the risk of namby-pambiness, but at least it makes the rhythm easy.
2 The one I know
3 Broken for me looks deceptively tricky. It's one of those ones with a flowing left hand and long pauses in the right, so I'l have to play it quite briskly so that we don't all go to sleep. May be as easy as it looks.
4 Looks traditional and straightforward.

Only one other problem. If I don't know them, the congregation won't either. We don't have a choir. Oh joy.

And so I'll come back to this Communion what-have-you. There are two things. One is more personal, that is, I feel weird about the thought of it. I agree, it is deeply meaningful and spiritual and fundamental (if you happen to be a Christian, that is - if not, it's just deeply creepy) but that means it isn't something to do casually, without preparation, and I really shy away from that. I'm *cough cough* not worthy, if you like to put it that way. I don't know how else to. I feel I shouldn't. Mind you, I've received Communion from lay people who may be no worthier than I, but that's not the point. I'm not comfortable with leading prayers either. When, a couple of years ago, the Fellow and I had to take a service, I rapidly volunteered to do the sermon so that he'd do the prayers. I was all right with that (and I did write notes; bullet points, that is, but I didn't need to look at them), but it hasn't made me want to do it again.

The second thing is that I'm busy already in most services. Last week, I was sidesman. Tomorrow, I will be organist. The week after, I'll be playing the clarinet and making coffee (with my left foot, I'll be cracking walnuts). Always, I'm on duty as churchwarden - and I'm not complaining, it's part of the job. But I get nothing out of a church service, and haven't for years. Where's the still small voice? Drowned out by busy-ness, usually. If I take on yet another thing, even occasionally, it will be in addition to the rest, and I know how these things work, "oh, you're deaconing, will you do the prayers tomorrow?"

There's another thing, actually. I don't actually go for the whole transubstantiation thingy. As far as I'm concerned, that's for Catholics. It's symbolic, that's all. So I can't say the words. I don't go as far as the Nonconformists, mind you, with their individual glasses of juice. The symbolism of one shared chalice of wine is, for me, the point. Unfortunately, we do have individual wafers - I'd prefer a torn bread roll, for the same reason.


Dandelion said...

It's alright, z, if you are C of E, you can have consubstantiation instead. If if you're very clever, you can have meta-consubstantiation, which is even better. My father's house has many mansions.

Though we are many, we are one body, because we all share in one bread.

Z said...

Yeah, that's fine (not that I understood the words but I get what you mean) if you're in the congregation because you can leave out the bits you don't feel able to say, but if you're part of the service you have to say what's in the book.

peaceableimperatrix said...

When I was about 12, it was "the thing" to have small Mass and supper" gatherings in people's homes. I suppose it helped you imagine the lives of the first Christians (or Henry VIII/ Elizabeth I Catholics, with their hidey-holes), who had to practice their faith in secret. My favorite part was the bread, which actually was one loaf, rather than those plasticky wafers they had in church.

Actually, as I type this, I think perhaps it was only my overimaginative nature that came up with the secrecy aspect.

Anyway, I understand your feelings of alienation. When we get so busy, how can we find that place of stillness which we strive for in spirituality ?

Z said...

I've just remembered that Al went on a French exchange visit when he was about 14 - he was very put off by the Scout camping weekend, but rather more disconcerted when the priest turned up for supper one night and got out all the communion paraphernalia. A lot of wine flowed, which was the good part of the evening as far as he was concerned.

Eddie 2-Sox said...

Don't go to church. Come and help dig the allotment, and share tomato soup.

Z said...

Given the choice, that's just what I'd do, Simon.

I made soup today.

Dandelion said...

All you have to say is "blood of christ, keep you in eternal life". I don't see that that makes any commitment as to your beliefs about the contents of the chalice. It's perfectly multibiguous. You could mean it as a metaphor, couldn't you? Or a non-sequitur.

Conscientious objecting would have been a good argument for declining, if only it held water. The fact is though, if you don't want to do it, then that by itself is a good enough reason to say no. Clearly, it's not just Zammo :-)

Z said...

It may not arise. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Dandelion said...

I will too then :-)

Dave said...

Broken for me shouldn't be too brisk.

Not Ribena - grape juice; just wine without the alcohol. I always do use one piece of bread/a roll.

Dave said...

Of course 'Broken for me' is theologically unsound, as no doubt you'll point out to the vicar.

I do get annoyed when some clergy present the bread with the words 'the body of Christ, broken for you'. John goes to great lengths to point out that Christ's body was not broken (unlike the thieves, who had their legs broken) because the sacrificial lamb must be unblemished, with no broken bones.

When Christ broke the bread he said 'this is my body given for you'.

Z said...

My mother sometimes went to the URC church in Yagnub - she said they served Ribena, but since she never drank anything but water (not from choice) she might not have recognised grape juice. I once took Communion in Norwich Cathedral; they used white port which was posh but odd. The PCC decided to use wafers after a period where a variety of rolls were provided, ranging from very crusty (crumbs everywhere) to rather stale.

The words of quite a number of hymns, both old and new, make me cringe. One advantage of playing the organ is that you don't have to sing them. But maybe 'broken' refers to the broken skin?

luckyzmom said...

That leaves your right foot available for spinning wool for the altercloth or something.

2-Sox Admin said...

Z, I have a serious proposal to put to you. Would you please give consideration to becoming a Consiglieri of Team 2-Sox (the World's Premier Extreme And/Or Unusual Sports Club With The Long Term Aim Of Winning The Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling In 2021 - WPEAOUSCWTLTAOWTCHCRI2021 for short). The post is 99% a passive one, with occasional votes on the direction of the team or other team matters.

We are aiming to form a Council of seven Consiglieri.

There is no financial commitment at the moment, but in future we may appeal to Consiglieri for funding of entry fees to competitions etc. This may amount to as much as £1.25 per annum, but not yet, in the future.

Acceptance of this prestigious position will enhance your CV greatly, and you might get writing privileges to the team website:

“Come on team….let’s get some chips!”

Eddie 2-Sox
(The Gaffer, The Chef, & The Magic Sponge Man)

Z said...

Hah - you're right, LZM. Wouldn't do to be lazy!

Oh I say, I've been propositioned! I am highly sensible of the honour you do me, kind sir, and only too happy to accept.