It was cluster pulpit swap day today, so when the music stopped, we all rushed to find another church to preach in... or some such. Some such actually. It was all fixed up months ago when yours truly as resident organised person ("you did such a good job last time") worked out who hadn't previously preached where in this arrangement and how to split four ministers from three churches between five services over four churches without anyone preaching twice! We did it (by missing one service, which one of my folk covered, at the only church that still has two services every week and which doesn't have a minister to offer into the shuffle).
The reality was that three out of four ministers ended up attending a servcie at which one of the others preached, but also had to preach an 'away' fixture. (Is this starting to sound like one of those logic puzzles... Revd Black didn't preach at Salem who use the RSV and BHB...).
My visit to D+2 went well enough in the end - though I was amused by one of the GB parents who clearly didn't grasp I'm a minister who told me I'd done well! Intriguingly, both myself and the minister from D+6 (who came to us) found ourselves nervous about the away preaches - why was that? Is it a good thing? In some ways, yes, I think it is.
We had a great turn out this afternoon, and as I was pressing buttons for PowerPoint (they gave up on Impress) I got a very different view of procedings, as well as giving my usual button presser a week off. For a while I found myself envying my colleague's adjective rich language, how she painted word pictures that really came alive, whilst I just deliver it pretty straight. But only for a while. Somewhere along the line, I have learned that my style is my style, and that there are plenty of people who can relate to it. It's just enriching to get some variety - either way round.
Although three out of four ministers had to do a double shift today, we also had the blessing of taking in rather than only giving out. It is always good to visit other fellowships, if only because they help you to see your own afresh. For me, it felt a bit odd standing in a church on a Sunday rather than a school hall - rarely do I lead worship in church buildings any more. For others I guess it was the size or age of congregation, the time or style of service that was unusual.
Hopefully next time someone else will do the logic puzzle (which actually isn't that tricky) and next time the music stops we'll all once more have a novel experience of the wonderful diversity that is the Honey Nut Cluster we are. (Did I tell you we serve clustered creams with our tea on these occasions....? sorry.)