Thursday, 22 April 2010

Once at South Ferriby

I’ve been praying this morning for two families I only met once about sixteen years ago but who I clearly remember, have thought about once or twice since, and about whom I was reminded yesterday.

There is a resident of this parish who had his own Blog which covers everything from his visits to local historic churches and his criticisms of the Archbishop of Canterbury to his crushes on television personalities and his reviews of lap dancing clubs, and I’ve taken to leaving comments about those features about which I have the experience and information to do so.

His post yesterday was about South Ferriby church, where the village is tucked away at the western foot of an escarpment and the church a short steep climb above it. I’ve been there once to cover a service, so I posted a comment letting him know that the church is unusually orientated north-south. Much of the original west end of a east-west orientated church slipped down the hill leaving the people of the time to remodel what remained along the more stable north-south line of the escarpment; the altar now stands before what is liturgically the ‘east’ window but what is in fact the original north transept window.

I can’t think why I was covering a Sunday service as far away as South Ferriby, but two families made up the whole congregation. One couple were celebrating a major anniversary; I don’t hold in mind whether it was a Silver Wedding or a Ruby Wedding or something else. The other couple had small children with them including a boy they had ben fostering who they were to return to his own parent or parents the following day. They both spoke to me about these things before the service, and I remember abandoning my prepared sermon and intercessions to let then talk about their families and pray about their situations during the service.

At this distance I’m trying to work out why I remember so much of this. I suspect what was so distinctive about it was that they prayed for each other. It wasn’t just that each had something special which brought them to church specifically that day. It was that they found other people who had also done so and gave their attention to celebrate and support them (which is, I suppose, what really ought to be happening in every church every week).

The couple the celebrating their anniversary may well be dead by now, and the boy who was returning home will be an adult, but I prayed for them again this morning none the less (and on my way home I took this photograph of the grave of a child in St Michael’s churchyard who was a contemporary of mine).

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