Thursday, 11 February 2016

Nightmares revisted

Another day of respite from rain, allowing me to walk down to St John's Canton and celebrate their mid week Eucharist with eight regulars. Then, after lunch, I was picked up and taken by car to Pidgeon's chapel for a funeral service. As the chief mourner was entering, I discovered that the person meant to be giving the eulogy had backed out. This really threw me into a minor panic, as I'd gleaned no more than an outline of the deceased's life in a rather reticent conversation at the meeting I'd had earlier in the week, so I was relying on someone else to tell his story.

It took me a few moments at the start of the service to get a grip on myself. I stumbled over the surname, having opened my service text at the first prayer, not at the title page. Even with forty plus years of experience of leading public worship behind me, I can still be tipped off balance. The sudden feeling of no longer being in full control is quite distressing and reminds me of the occasional nightmares I've had about leading worship throughout my ministry.

After the crematorium service, rather than go home, I was taken back into town and dropped off outside the Motorpoint Arena, so that I could spend an hour in the office before walking over to St German's to take a rehearsal for tomorrow's wedding. This will be the first full wedding at which I've officiated in five years. In many parishes nowadays, church weddings are few and far between, and as long as there is a Vicar, a retired priest rarely gets called upon to offer this service.

Wedding blessings in Spain are different, the marriage must be registered in a civil ceremony before the celebration to qualify. A church wedding in a British parish requires the officiating priest to act as registrar. I'm always a bit nervous until a ceremony starts and everyone stops fussing and relaxes. Then I can relax and enjoy doing what I love to do. But, filling in the registers beforehand was something I hated about weddings, as doing it consistently, with three copies of the register entry to write, made me tense and more error prone. Another of my professional nightmares.

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