When I was a teenager, my brothers used to delight in telling me that I wouldn't get double points for going to church twice on the same day. They may well have been right, but I used to enjoy the very different feel of morning and evening services. Today I went three times, to three different churches, so I'm not sure what kind of point collector that must make me! It was an interesting experience, to be with three very different congregations with very different 'feels', and each one in its own way special.
The morning was at GB church (D+2) and was family worship. It is a very informal fellowship with lots of bits of drama and interaction with the congregation. There is a worship band, a wide age range and typically a congregation of around 50-60. It is a light and bright place to be and it's usually fun.
The afternoon was my own folk and a very different feel. The format was unusual for us, with sung chants without the words available and, as one person commented, the first time he'd ever sat down all through a service. A few people really engaged with the theme, and the atmosphere was quite good, though the familiar grumblers grumbled in familiar fashion! As it was the first weekend of the school holidays I began with 18 chairs so that people would sit together - and eventually got up to 30 by the time we began!
Then the evening with the Penties in town who I love because they are a very authentic group of people, who can share the highs and lows of life with one another. The endless 'ay-mens' don't quite do it for me, and some of the shouted exclamations are not my thing, it is a fairly comfortable place to worship. I find it odd, in this day and age, to have people take notes during my sermon, but they are always gracious and appreciative of what I offer them.
As I left the evening service I spoke to a couple of Anglicans who were visiting (from nearby) who commented that they like to go there occasionally for something a bit different from their routine. Going "visiting" does (at least) two things for me:
It reminds of incredible diversity of Christian worship
It helps to remind me of what I value in my own little church
But today, I have to give extra points to the Penties who closed by singing 'Immortal, Invisible' a hymn that brought back powerful, and positive, memories of some of my earliest experiences of leading worship as a 15 year-old when the older members of the GB and BB were sent to take services at the local old people's home (as they were called in those days). When it was GB's turn, two of us would go along, with my friend's boyfriend who played the piano for us, whilst she chose the Bible reading and I did the prayers! James' repetoire seemed to consist almost solely of 'Immortal, Invisible' and 'The Day Thou Gavest' and whenever I sing them I am transported back to that place and time when I wasn't earning points for extra attendance but I was learning skills I'd later need!
All in all, points or no points, a positive day.