Monday, 11 September 2017

No One Shall Snatch Them Out of my Hand

If I were superstitious, I might start to think there was something going on. A youngish person coming to worship at Swanvale Halt Parish Church and 'sticking' is a sufficiently infrequent occurrence to occasion remark. In this instance, it's a woman in her mid-to-late 20s who has even brought her husband along on occasion. This Sunday I discovered they both have short-term contracts of employment at the University, and will be moving to Norfolk in the New Year.

It puts me in mind of the young family who having looked around at a variety of churches when they first came to the area, stuck with us because they liked the nice smooth wooden floor that their small daughter could roll around on without doing either her or anyone else any damage. Mum and Dad were both teachers, he taught Classics (!) at one of the public schools a few miles away and unlike most of the congregation who are very local they drove down the lanes to be with us every Sunday morning. 'We liked the floor, then found we liked the worship and then liked the people', they said. Dad had been converted to Christianity at a big potboiler evangelical church but then discovered he wanted something 'a bit deeper' and had swung round to Anglo-Catholicism. Then he was made redundant after two years here, and they moved to the Midlands. Then there was the couple I married and who showed some enthusiasm about the church, coming to some of our events; their landlord sold the house and they had to move away. There was a couple who came to our Toddler Group one morning with their little daughter, said they were moving into the area and looking for a Catholic-end-of-the-spectrum church, like the one they used to go to in Wimbledon. Mum brought daughter to church once, and discovered, rather to her surprise, that congregational singing distressed her so much she howled her little head off (I sometimes sympathise). Meanwhile Dad's new job demanded his availability at all hours of the day and so he could never commit to anything else despite having been a server at their old church.

It seems that every time someone turns up who might be of some use, circumstances conspire to remove them, and I end up smiling and trying to be enthusiastic about their latest adventure away from the fair parish of Swanvale Halt.

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