Given the shudders that the annual ecumenical service at Hornington Parish Church tends to induce in me, there was bitter irony in the fact that it fell to me to organise it this year. Even more bitter was the fact that the first Sunday in the year, when this traditionally takes place, was New Year's Day this occasion. It was an additional factor in not going to attend the final outing of Vagabonds at The Minories the evening before - even if, after my Dad's death, I had wanted to.
Anyway. It is accepted that the service takes the form of a Communion, and provided the URC church manages to provide its non-alcoholic wine (rather than the Ribena we had to make do with in 2010) it's not too overtly offensive: we have to struggle with loaf bread rather than sensible wafers, but you have to compromise. I insisted that, in honour of the day, the theme should be 'bearing the Name of Jesus' but managed to get the Circumcision of the Lord in by using the proper Collect for the feast. The music, after a certain degree of argument with the music group, was pretty acceptable and included some good traditional hymns to top and tail the service, rather than anything that might be converted into a Nazi rally like usual. There were a couple of hairy moments when the bread and 'wine' refused to arrive on the altar because nobody had thought to bring them, and when all the clergy waited forlornly at the end for a crucifer to lead us out and again nobody turned up. But it was all ok. AND I don't have to do it again for years.
I wore my old gold set. 'That's the first time I've seen a maniple in 50 years', said the URC minister. 'It's the first time I've seen one in 74 years' put in one of my colleagues from Binpont up the hill. Who is 74.