Church: It’s Complicated

9 Aug

Sunday.  Go to church.  Nothing difficult there, you’d think; I’ve been doing it for years.  Think again.

Our church is now made up of three congregations and, instead of just across the road from my house, it’s a 10-15 minute walk, uphill all the way.  That’s fine, so long as I time it right.

Our church is now made up of high church (old) and modern church (new).  That’s fine, it suits me when I have a writer’s group meeting to go to the earlier, more formal service.

Our church is trying not to be all things to all men (that’s God’s job), but to gently combine the two styles into something unique to our mixed congregation.

So far, so not too interesting.

Our church has a nine-thirty service and eleven-fifteen service (tea & coffee between so the congregations socialise).

Our church has all-age worship, children-go-out-halfway-through worship, sung eucharist, morning prayer, short said service, Holy Communion, all-age morning worship, all-age Holy Communion, four different types of Wednesday communions, and an exhausted vicar.

The first Sunday in the month, there’s one service, a whole-parish worship, which starts at ten-thirty.  When I got up on Sunday morning I knew I was going to the ten-thirty service, because it was the first Sunday in the month.  So no one was more surprised than me when ten o’clock came and it was time for me to get ready – I had fifteen minutes to dress, make up, brush teeth, go to the toilet three times, make a brew for the Hub, kiss him goodbye, and leave.

I had showered, fortunately, but I had it in my head that if I got ready at ten I would be in plenty of time for the ten-thirty service. I realised at ten-o-one that would only happen if I had access to an Enterprise transporter.  Or a bike.

Hmm…molecule separation and re-mashing hadn’t been invented by ten-o-one last Sunday morning; but bikes had.  And I had a bike.  Problem solved.

Hmmm…I had not practised riding uphill at this point, but how hard could it be?

The Hub insisted I take a bike chain with me (‘You know what church people are like: if it isn’t nailed down, they’ll sell it at the next coffee morning’).  He had sorted out a few bike chains but one was a combination lock to which we had lost the combination; one was the ideal length but had no lock; and one was a motorbike chain with a lock and key.  I thrust the motorbike chain into my bag and wobbled off as far as the pavement, where I had to grab hold of a passing neighbour to stop myself falling side-on into the road: motorbike chains weigh almost as much as the motorbikes they don’t let robbers steal.

I tried the bag on my right shoulder, my left shoulder, my right handle bar, my left handle bar and balancing it on the cross bar.  I almost went over the top with that one.  Eventually I sort of had it sort of draped over the middle of the bike and had ridden almost fifty yards.  I reached a short incline.  I had to get off and wheel it because I’d forgotten which handle had the gears on.

I got on again at the top of the incline and rode another fifty yards to the bottom of Northgate Road.  Northgate Road is well named, as it goes north.  And I mean north as in straight up, not north as in the opposite of south on a flat land.  I was game, however, and got as far as one rotation of the pedals before I realised there was something wrong with my bike.  Not moving despite short legs pounding the pedals furiously is a bit of a give away, as is a funny flat floo-ped sound.

I got off the bike and checked everything.  I might as well have given our car the once-over instead for all the good it did, but it was better than not checking everything.  I thought it might be worth running my hands over the tyres.  That’s when I discovered that tyres are dirty, greasy and often layered in dog poo; and that the inner tube had now become an outer tube.

I turned my sad little vehicle around and wheeled it home, floo-peding all the way.

Have I ever mentioned that I have the best husband in the world (despite Sarsm’s claim)?  It takes a couple of hours for his body to de-creak but he dragged himself out of bed, pushed me into the car, and left me outside the church door, waving an emotional goodbye at precisely 10:29.  There are days when I’m glad he didn’t do that back in 1985.

I’m not the only one who had a false start that day.  The joint service is a mix of old and new.  The new starts with a couple of songs to warm us all up and to give late-comers (tut) a chance to grab a seat at the back.  The old didn’t realise that, and started the procession down the aisle with the banners on poles when the first song started, as always.  Then the old discovered their mistake, turned around, and proceeded gravely back up the aisle.

Second warm-up song: same thing.  By the third song, which was the first hymn, the old was late, hanging around at the back of the church, waiting for their cue.

Some people leave everything to the last minute. 

35 Responses to “Church: It’s Complicated”

  1. Cindy August 9, 2011 at 10:40 #

    What’s the bottom picture Tilly?


    • scarlettruby August 9, 2011 at 10:57 #

      Well done you for persevering. i would have given up long since. And when you returned home – I would certainly have joined the Hub in bed justifying myself with the thought that God mustn’t really want/need me in church today!


      • Tilly Bud August 9, 2011 at 20:24 #

        I was tempted, believe me!

        Welcome to my blog. Do you have one so I can return the visit? There’s no link, I’m afraid.


    • Tilly Bud August 9, 2011 at 20:19 #

      It’s our church, St Matthew’s, from a distance. Stockport is hilly and I’m not sure where it’s taken from. The hills in the background are part of the Peak District, the Pennines, aka the spine of England.


  2. vivenne blake August 9, 2011 at 10:59 #

    Good for you (and Hub!). Long ago, recently moved to a new area, I cycled (as was my wont) to the new local church. Obviously, I was not posh enough in my cycling outfit – the church-warden, waiting at the door to welcome the hatted and fancy congregation, said to me “what have you come for?” That flummoxed me, but I replied “I’ve come to Matins”. “Oh, very well” was the reply, and I went in seething. That was the last time I set foot in that church, thereafter cycling the 9 mile round trip to my old one.


    • Tilly Bud August 9, 2011 at 20:21 #

      You were right to do so. If they don’t make you welcome, you don’t want to be there.


  3. misswhiplash August 9, 2011 at 11:07 #

    The Lord ,He works in mysterious ways.

    Yes…. what IS the bottom picture TillyB?


    • Tilly Bud August 9, 2011 at 20:27 #

      Just the church from another angle 🙂

      heehee – typed ‘angel’ – talk about a Freudian slip!


  4. sarsm August 9, 2011 at 11:16 #

    You do know why we connect so easily, don’t you? Because we have the same kind of clumsy hectic approach to life!!

    That’s exactly why I find your post so funny, I could be doing precisely the same thing!!

    And I can just imagine the procession trundling up and down the aisle.

    Brilliant (and thanks for the mention (or my hub’s mention ;-)))


    • Tilly Bud August 9, 2011 at 20:29 #

      Kindred spirits!

      I was glad to mention it – one of the loveliest posts I’ve ever read, from anyone.


  5. mairedubhtx August 9, 2011 at 14:47 #

    Sorry your bike didn’t work out. But your description of the beginning of the service sounds like so many churches I’ve belonged to. So funny.


    • Tilly Bud August 9, 2011 at 20:30 #

      I guess we’re the same the world over 🙂


  6. gigihawaii August 9, 2011 at 15:53 #

    Ah, well, you are holier than I am. I stopped going to Mass in 2004 and don’t miss it, believe me. Love to worship St. Mattress on Sunday.


    • Tilly Bud August 9, 2011 at 20:32 #

      lol! I can’t stay in bed late; not for twenty-one years.


  7. granny1947 August 9, 2011 at 18:02 #

    What IS that picture…put us out of our misery.


    • Tilly Bud August 9, 2011 at 20:34 #

      I don’t understand all this fuss about the picture. Is it showing as something different in the rest of the world? It’s just a rooftop scene of our church from some distance away.

      Stockport is quite picturesque in a dark satanic mill sort of way 🙂


  8. Big Al August 9, 2011 at 19:28 #

    That’s a beautiful little church. Looks like it might have a lot of history to it. Care to elaborate some?


    • Tilly Bud August 9, 2011 at 20:43 #

      I don’t know much because we have only recently moved into it, though we have always been part of the same parish. Our three congregations merged some years ago, but only physically at Easter.

      It was consecrated in May 1858. Despite the bright red doors, the entrance is dark and unwelcoming, but we are working on that.

      I have recently become part of the communications team for the church and you have just given me an idea of something we should be doing – a history of our building! Thanks Al 🙂 I will try to find out some more and get back to you.


  9. Tinman August 9, 2011 at 20:28 #

    Is the bottom picture exactly what it sounds like – a picture of your bottom after all that cycling?

    If not I’m guessing God arrived at your church as a Pillar of Fire.


    • Tilly Bud August 9, 2011 at 20:54 #


      That’s your revenge for my searches, isn’t it? 🙂


  10. Paula Tohline Calhoun August 9, 2011 at 22:44 #

    well, it sounds like a rather enjoyable morning – once you got there, anyway! These sorts of problems never happen when you have plenty of time, BTW (which is a stupid thing to say, because why would they be a problem if you had plenty of time? It’s sort of like saying after finding a long-searched-for item, “Wouldn’t you know it would be in the last place I’d look?” Of course it’s in the last place you looked! Would you keep looking for it after you found it?) Anyway, I digress. . .

    If church services start basically on time, you’re ahead of the game. Ending on time is even better for most people! A few humorous goofs never hurt. . .


    • Tilly Bud August 9, 2011 at 22:51 #

      So long as the laughter is warm and not malicious, then goofs are good 🙂


  11. kateshrewsday August 9, 2011 at 22:54 #

    Oh, loved this, Tilly 😀 Such a familiar set of scenarios. Sundays would be so peaceful without church; but the people watching involved in church going ensures Sunday is rarely dull. What a wonderful husband you have…


  12. belleofthecarnival August 10, 2011 at 04:44 #

    Chuckles! It sounds like one of my days! I love your description of your church morning start it reminds me of the one I use to attend when I was young 🙂


  13. Yulia August 10, 2011 at 10:32 #

    I like those pictures 🙂 It is a very beautiful church 🙂


    • Tilly Bud August 11, 2011 at 15:27 #

      It is, but the entrance is dour and unwelcoming. We’re working on that.


  14. Perfecting Motherhood August 11, 2011 at 07:36 #

    Well, Sarah’s hubby may clean the loo without being prompted, but yours is pretty awsome too!


  15. eof737 August 11, 2011 at 13:09 #

    Glad the hub dropped you off after all… I like the idea of old and new combining to have a start of month service… even with the mishaps. 🙂


    • Tilly Bud August 11, 2011 at 15:37 #

      It’s the working together that matters 🙂


  16. Patti August 12, 2011 at 00:47 #

    I love thinking of you struggling along with your bike trying to get to church on time. I will now think of it whenever I wake up on Sunday morning and don’t have a pressing reason to attend church (nursery, leading singing, teaching Sunday school, hub serving communion, because I shouldn’t forsake gathering together with other believers….) and I will be chastened and get my butt out of bed.


  17. mmp July 1, 2012 at 21:32 #

    so made me laugh out loud….i knew these churches and can JUST imagine the hilarity of combining the traditions.

    oh the joy of watching a procession processing and then starting again… and glory…


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