21 February 2016 – first time back since August 1983
Sunday worship at my old church, St Ann’s Church of Scotland in Charlotte Street, Port of Spain.
It was a 9.00 am service – and, in typical Trini style, we started at ten past the hour.
A kind of liturgically different service. Though we did use (as in my day) CH3. The organist however, played the wrong tune (wrong metre too) to “The God of Abraham Praise” ….reminded me of my organist in the church where I ministered on my return from Trinidad; he would turn his hymnary to the wrong page, and play whatever hymn was there to the metre and tune recommended. So, while the congregation was trying to sing – say – Hymn 367 which was Common Metre, he’d be playing the tune for Hymn 368 which might have been 76.76D. (please note that I don’t have a clue what these hymns are – I picked the numbers at random. I don’t actually carry a hymnary with me when on holiday! Nor a “dog-collar”, although I did hear of a C of S minister who, even when vacationing in foreign climes, wore his…”so that I can be recognised as a clergyman, in case other holiday-makers need pastoral support”)
Ministerial friends and colleagues- how about this: no children’s address, even although there were about half a dozen kids there. Instead, they were asked to come forward, and “The blessing of the Sunday School” was prayed.
OK, so you get the youngsters out, pray that they’ll have a spiritually enlightening time at SS, then they leave!! No story, nowt, zip, zero!!!
Oh, the prayers – for the first prayer (confession and assurance) the Minister actually stated that he’d got it off the internet…. wow!
The sermon was obviously not from “Sermon Central” or whatever other American/Canadian “help for lazy pastors” website
It was one minute short of half an hour – fully ten or more minutes of which was an explanation of what the early Christian symbol of the fish meant.
Laboriously, he went through the Greek word for “fish” (ICHTUS), which he explained was an acrostic for I = Jesus, C = Christ, TH = God’s, U = Son, S = Saviour
And was literally spelling out each Greek letter – occasionally glancing at me to see if this were right!
He looked at his watch twice during the half hour, and then abruptly stopped.
Now, don’t get me wrong – he was a warm and welcoming guy; totally sincere and dedicated…. but, “hey, man!” ah didn’t preach like so!
What a wonderful welcome for this old pilgrim! Handshakes, hugs, reminiscing – and so many folk remembered me.
I felt very emotional when asked to address the congregation, especially when I recalled that Helen loved worshipping there. This old softie had a tear in his eye, and a lump in his throat.
Lovely, warm, special time of fellowship and of memories.
Just a very special and moving experience.
A post-note: in the congregation was one of two sisters who were very straight and narrow, and although very pleasant, just a wee bit too religious.
Yvonne was there – she’s 96!!!!! And we talked for a while after the service.
I’d been “advised” beforehand that she might be there. I was told by Cliff (my Trini pastor friend) that many years after I left, she still referred to me disparagingly as “The Minister who drinks beer” shock! horror!
It goes back to a Sunday lunchtime when, after church, the two sisters (for some reason long forgotten) turned up unexpectedly at the Manse. In those days, shops were closed on a Sunday, and we’d run out of fruit juice for Mat and Richard; so Helen and I gave them a VERY small glass of Carib lager. The ladies looked askance, but Helen justified it by saying that “it’s not very strong”. I’ve since discovered that it’s 5.2 % proof!!!