Some months ago, my daughter, son-in-law and baby went to their local church which is very close to where they live. I did warn them that they would find it a bit different to what they had previously been used to. They were somewhat surprised when the service, billed as a Service of Holy Communion began with the Eucharistic Prayer and after the faithful had made their Communion the children including my daughter and baby were dismissed to the hall, for a Sunday School Lesson whilst the remaining congregation then had some Bible readings, prayers and a jolly long sermon. They hated it and from then on have been attending St. Augustine’s at Rush Green where they have to drive several miles and where, I’m pleased to say, they are very happy and on the Electoral Roll.
I find it hard to believe or understand just what that priest and congregation thought they were doing. Is this another example of “how we do church” or even a “fresh expression” of worship? This is symptomatic of the slipshod way that some on the liberal wing consider liturgy, a sort of anything goes, do what you like when you like affair with the clergy dressed in tee shirt and jeans.
Last year I went to celebrate Mass at a church during an Interregnum and was told as I entered the door that all I had to do was preach and do the Eucharistic Prayer; all the rest would be done by the congregation. I soon put them right, that I would introduce the Confession, pronounce the Absolution, pray the Collect, read the Gospel etc. “That’s not the way we do things here” “Sorry” I replied, “you have a choice either I do it as I have said or I’ll be on my way.” I was not invited back I’m pleased to say, as I wouldn’t have gone. I discovered afterwards that a women priest had been on the staff until she moved to new pastures something I wasn’t aware of previously. During coffee after the Service a women priest arrived walked straight past me as though I wasn’t there and proceeded to talk to people as they were leaving. I asked who she was and was told that she had been there until quite recently and often came back to chat to people. I left straight away!
As an Anglo- Catholic priest who likes things to be done decently and in order I find this sort of cavalier attitude to the liturgy, demonstrated in these two examples, very sad but regrettably what many churches in the Cof E are like