Ok so I go every year to the carol service, and every year I remember why I struggled to be a Christian when I was younger. However I don’t think that my parents are going to invite me along next year, to the dim and dreary, slightly dismal service that is the new vicars excuse for a carol service. I was in a helpful mood this evening. And that never bodes well.
I’d sung my little heart out to ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ and ‘Oh Little Town of Bethlehem’ and glanced around at the wonderfully pagan decorations in the church during the prayers….and then the vicar decided to do his servicey bit. He asked for volunteers, he wanted five, our little CoE congregation made up of grannys and nervy, meek and mild people don’t volunteer so he had some trouble. He was searching around desperately for somebody, anybody, when he caught my eye. So I got up and wandered to the fron where I was pointed. Oh well I was helping out, I’d probably end up agreeing with the base message anyway, and the poor bloke looked so helpless.
So yeah, theres five of us, two old blokes, a granny and some child (no idea which sex) stood in front of the congregation. The vicar explains that this is a sermon based on Pop Idol but we’re not to worry we won’t be asked to sing but the ‘audience’ will be voting for us. (Phew! Sigh of relief from Mish.) I’m not too worried, afterall I can say plenty to get votes, hopefully we won’t be asked to dance or anything.
The vicar tells us we’ll be given ten seconds to answer a question. Oh this is too easy, I’m third in line so I’ll get a chance to think about this one. No problems. So we’re stood on the steps and the vicar stands in front of us with a holly wrapped faux microphone and asks the first man the all important question, better listen intently to make sure I can get my answer just right: “What makes you a good Christian?”
I am suddenly entirely in my own little world. I look straight ahead, strenuously avoiding the fifth pew where I know my Dad is silently dieing of embarrassement and definately avoiding the organ because if I know my Mum she’ll get nervous giggles and then thats us both in hysterics for the evening. Shit the giggle loop thought occurs. Keep it down, keep it down. Focus on my old Sunday School teacher. She’s looking faintly dissapproving, oh gods so many people in this congregation are looking at me, not the kid who’s answering very thoughtfully. I’m beginning to think that only the vicar doesn’t know.
Then he turns his holly laden ‘mike’ on me. I wonder what on earth the other two answer, I totally missed it.
Here comes the question, oh Gods.
“What makes you a good Christian?”
Briefly, very briefly, I consider telling him what makes me a good Wiccan and proclaiming for the pagan gods in the middle of the church. However my parents have to live here. So here goes;
“Um, I’m not actually a Christian.”
I very nearly put sir on the end of that one. I do feel like I’m in school, something about the group indrawn breath from a lot of people in the church, good so everyone except the vicar didn’t know. My Sunday School teacher and a good many people are looking somewhat poleaxed by the announcement. The child asks what I’m fairly sure the vicar is thinking; “So what are you doing in a church then?”
“I just like the songs, the carols.” I reply.
The vicar mutters something that contains in the word commendable and possibly honesty, and moves very swiftly on to the next woman, who is a Christian as it turns out and apparently a very saintly one.
I still can’t look towards my parents, Mr Turnbull has gone very red in the face, I think he’s trying not to laugh.
I manage to look towards the Johnsons, they’re church wardens and have known me all my life, Mr Johnson grins at me and Mrs Johnson winks. I put on a straight face. Ah well maybe the ex-vicar will stop trying to convert me now.
Needless to say the child won the vote, not even Dad voted for me, although there were a few stifled giggles. I forget what the moral of all this was supposed to be, but I think the vicar nearly did too.
I don’t think my parents will invite me to the carol service next year…