On Armistice Day, owing to inattention on the vicar’s part, the Two Minutes’ Silence at my local church was five-and-a-half minutes late, something that I have never experienced before. . . Afterwards, I expressed my disappointment to the vicar, who used to work in a profession where precise timing is essential. His reply was, “Well, if you don’t like it, you can go somewhere else next time!” After such a response I might well take his advice. Comments, please?
Your answers: I would suggest that the questioner take the advice (although it could have been phrased more politely) given by his Vicar and finds a perfect church to suit his requirements, if such exists.
When he joins it, however, it may lose that status. The clergy, like everyone else, differ in their approach to occasional events. The vicar concerned may be elderly, had to conduct services in several locations, been held up in travel, or be inexperienced. The fallen were remembered before God, who would not have been looking at a watch. A little tolerance goes a long way, a little help even further.
(Miss) Primrose Peacock, Truro
Of the seven villages (and their churches) in my rural benefice, four had a Remembrance Sunday service, and only one of them at the “proper” time. Sadly, even at that, the Two Minutes’ Silence was very slightly early, largely because the (volunteer) bugler misinterpreted an involuntary twitch on my part as the signal to start the Last Post.
I fear that your correspondent has failed to understand the pressure on clergy and Readers up and down the country on such occasions, as they attempt to wrangle brass bands, Brownies, Scouts, British Legions, and a clock in the tower which will chime on time, come what may.
Name and address supplied
Remembrance Sunday is one of the most stressful days in most parish priests’ year. We deal with visitors of all ages. We will have struggled to write a sermon that honours those who have served and suffered in war, does not glorify it, and helps a wide range of people to find inspiration and consolation: it is a tightrope.
We may be juggling with the practicalities of wreaths, CD players (or buglers) for the Last Post, Cubs wielding flags that they don’t quite know what to do with, and schoolchildren reading poems of an unknown length, while keeping an eye open for any who are finding the day overwhelming — those who have lost loved ones in war, or who may be suffering from PTSD.
At the end of it all, there may be one person who thinks that, because the Silence was a few minutes late or early, the care that we have taken is invalidated, and will feel it his or her duty to tell us so, just when we are at our most tired. I am not surprised at the vicar’s reaction. It is intensely demoralising when the timing of the Silence seems to be all that people notice.
We cannot always have the precision that is possible at the Cenotaph: there are too many unknowns. I long ago stopped trying to, and am open with people about it. What matters is that the service is respectful, and helps people to reflect and remember helpfully during the Silence, whenever it comes.
Name and address supplied
Another unnamed respondent writes: “It is best, where conditions allow, never to leave the timing of the Silence in the hands of the clergy. It should be strictly controlled by a competent MC from the sanctuary — like everything else.” Editor
Your questions: Every time I peruse items of church news, sooner or later I encounter meetings or discussions or funding in respect of science and faith. Why? Has the Church fallen in with the view of the uninitiated that being a scientist brings a problem with faith?
N. P. H.
How widely is the response to the reading of scripture “Let the church hear what the Spirit is saying” used?
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