Thursday, 12 March 2015

Lent 3. MOTR CofE: 8am, Holy Ascension

"MOTR" = Middle of the Road. This is the kind of Church of England Anglicanism that is neither conservative Evangelical nor Conservative Anglo-Catholicism but something often perceived as being in between the other two, while actually being something quite different. It comes in for criticism for being nothing much, but is actually rather an interesting thing, as it is, by neccessity, trying to include all members of the local community. Mostly, therefore, it is Liberal Christianity, and at its best, this inclusiveness means all sorts of different types of worship are practiced. But, being community based, it often gets a stuck in "tradition", when people who have lived in an area a long time find it hard to even try any new things, and this has the unfortunate consequence of keeping new ideas and new people out. These are the kinds of churches found in small towns and villages all over England. 

The thing I like best about them is that they have services at 3 different times of day. I really do like walking out through the silent streets to an early morning service, or, alternatively, winding down at an evening service and then meeting James for a gentle curry afterwards. These morning or evening services are usually less hamstrung with trying to be cool and  relevant to families with children, who it seems are the principle focus of all churches. It's a bums on pews game - get a family and you get all of their bums! Get a single person, and that's just one, sad, bum.

In the Settle area, there are three Anglican churches under the same priest, and this leads to an almost incomprehensible schedule of services, not helped by the frequent misprints on the website. Twice I have turned up to non-existent services, which is really annoying at 8am! Another time I ended up phoning the priest on Saturday night because I didn't believe what was on the website (which was wrong again). Something really needs to be done to fix this chaos. Three services each Sunday but only one in each church would be a start. Last Sunday the 8am service was at the church in Settle, Holy Ascension. It was the modern style service (Common Worship) with a short sermon but no hymns. With only 7 in church, there was also time after the service to talk with the priest, which was a rare treat - she is usually far too busy charging between the three different parishes to stop and talk! I'm not actually very familiar with Common Worship, even though it came in at the turn of the Century, as that was the time we left for Japan. It is funny the things we have missed; things that everyone else thinks are old that are novel to us. 

Our own living room is rather nicer than the general interior of Holy Ascension, but a treat for the 8am crowd is that they get to sit right up near the altar and so enjoy not only a greater sense of togetherness, and close observation of the Communion ceremony, but also the prettier part of the building. 

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