Much of last week was spent preparing for two things – my first years appraisal and the first service that I led at my church on Sunday night. My appraisal was done at 3am on Thursday, and it all went fine. I came away from it with a list of aims for the next year, and slightly more confidence that I was mostly heading in the right direction. And as I said to my team leader – ‘I passed!’ He laughed at me, explaining that you can’t really pass or fail an appraisal… but it felt like I’d passed!
The second thing wasn’t really a pass or fail thing either. In my alternative worship community, anyone can lead worship – you just have to say ‘I want to lead worship’ and you get put on the rota. Once on the rota, you are paired up with someone else, and you organise the service between you. Our first one was in August, but I was away, and she offered to lead it by herself. So this time when she was away, I said I’d do it by myself. I’ve done a reasonable amount of alternative-ish worship planning, but in my Swansea / SCM life – never in my New Home. Except for the Greenbelt service, which was completely different because it was done in a big group and was a completely different service than I would ever do on my own. So, although I don’t have to go through any of the long training that Folkie has to do to preach, it felt like I was being tested, judged, critiqued. Maybe it was just my nerves speaking. But it did feel like I had to prove to everyone that I could do it.
These services rarely fit any church year, the themes generally come from where ever the individual leader is in their spiritual journey, and they find a creative way to share worship, with essentially whatever they like. It just so happened that my service sorted fitted with the conventional church year (you can tell I’m a Methodist at heart, can’t you?!). It was a kinda alt worship harvest. I arranged the printing of about 90 photos of nature – mountain and coastal views, close ups of flowers, mushrooms, wildlife, etc. And I hung these around everyones heads on string, using pegs. At the front there was also a table display of actual natural things – allotment produce, shells, logs, a plant, a framed photo of Three Cliffs (thanks guys!) and a few Moroccan stones. I was pleasantly surprised how impressive the scene looked after setting it up – you can never quite tell when its all been in your head! The service itself was mostly mediative, using the photos, the natural things and creation perspectives and readings which I had scattered around.
It was difficult to tell during the service how it had gone – I did minimal participating in it, as I had to think about the music and what was happening next. But afterwards I got numerous positive comments. The most touching ones had to be the little old lady, who said that it moved her more than most of our services do; and the guy who organises the rota who said he was really impressed with my readings and vocal projection. Which surprised me, as I did not consider this as a strong point of mine. And he writes amazing meditations! I didn’t mention which bits I’d pinched from resources… but I know that at least half of what he was referring to, I’d written myself. Anyway, I somehow managed to impress him enough to get myself onto the rota for monthly medium sized services, which should be commencing shortly. Hmm, this is the trouble – you do well, impress everyone and you get asked to do more! I should have made an effort to mess it up! 😉 Mr B couldn’t understand why everyone was so surprised I’d done a good job, but I think he’s a bit biased.