Celebrating at home

What should I do about this hen do?‘ I asked Mark, my boss, one morning.

It’s in Nottingham on a Saturday night, and I can’t make it to the wedding so, I’d really love to go. It takes 2 and a half hours to get from Retford to Formby, so if I leave at 6am on the Sunday morning, it gives me 2 hours wiggle room before I need to be at church to give my sermon. Is it worth risking the traffic?‘.

He sighed and smiled at me. ‘I’ll cover your sermon for you. If you can find something to do at your home church on the Sunday morning, then you’re working and you don’t need to take the day as holiday’. 

What a star.

I promptly emailed my vicar in Retford, Sue, and explained the situation. She asked me if I would like to take the communion service that day and I was over the moon!

The plans were made, I borrowed an alb (white robe) from Nathan’s church, drove over to Retford, went to the hen do (which was great!) and was ready to go.

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at the altar, under my favourite church window

So, on the day I turned up early to go through the service.

Despite good prep from Sue, I still managed to get the order wrong and miss out the sermon- sorry David! But I think I did alright apart from that.

I hadn’t anticipated how unusual it would feel. Even though I have been to many services in All Hallows and I have spent countless hours there over the course of my life, it still felt very strange standing at the front and taking the service!

Throughout, there were various new and different things to think about.

For example, I’ve never used such a huge communion wafer before. The ones we use in Formby and Altcar break into 4 bits and are probably the size of a coaster. The type of wafer that they use at All Hallows are much bigger, breaking into 24 pieces and being the size of a small dinner plate! Those wafers take more time to break up than you’d expect!

I’ve also never done that bit in the liturgy when I am offered a bowl to wash my hands, as the deacon or verger pours the water over my fingers. It’s just not something that I’ve had that chance to do before, and I quite liked it, not because my fingers are dirty as such, but because it highlighted to be the significance of what I was about to do.

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David, the curate, myself, and Sue, the vicar

I was very honoured that Sue chose to wear her stole as a deacon, despite being a priest herself, as I took the service.

I think for me, the best bit was giving out the communion bread. There was a good turn out that week, and it was really special to give bread to people who I have known for most of my life as well as others who are newer to the church and helping to shape it for the future.

Getting to celebrate at All Hallows was yet another gift given to me by the beautiful people in that church. The welcome I got was just amazing and I was reminded that so much of who I am, what my faith is and how I minister is a fruit of their love and influence in my life. For some, it takes a village to raise a child. For me, it took a church.

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Me and Jean, verger for over 35 years

And, of course, it was great to spend some time with my lovely Mum, Dad & sister. I love to go back to Retford, especially now that I can drive which takes half the time that it does on the train! After church, my family and I went out for lunch to the hotel where Nathan and I had our wedding reception.

Celebrating at my home church was such an unexpected treat!

Thanks to Sue, David and all at All Hallows for having me, and thanks to Mark for letting me go!

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