Tuesday, 25 September 2012

New Models of Church - as Heritage Society

On Tuesdays, of an autumn evening, we like to take part in the Beaker Heritage Service.

It's the time of year when I insist that Drayton Parslow's Funambulist Baptists get out of Bogwulf Chapel, so we can have a really good time.

So every Tuesday from mid-September to Advent Sunday, we hold a Harvest Festival service. We switch off the electric lights, and use only candles (OK - tea lights. But some habits die hard). We carry butternut squashes, pumpkins and strings of tomatoes on the vine and lay them on the communion table, just as they have done since Hawker invented the Harvest Festival in Victorian times during the Middle Ages.

Then from Advent Sunday through to about 15 December, we celebrate Advent Services. These consist of us singing Adam Lay y-bounden repeatedly while people with bouffant hair styles set fire to themselves with candles. It's an odd tradition, but we like it. And "O Come, O Come Emmanuel", of course.

This then gives way to just the kind of Christingle Service that they used to hold before Henry VIII cancelled Christmas. Probably. Proper nativities, celebrated with squabbling kids, cattles lowing, pigs in the stable, kangaroos and a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Mary.

During this period,. we also like to erect a thermometer outside the chapel. It's too far from the road to see it, and in any case there's no shortage of funds to keep it in exactly the kind of decrepitude we like. You'd not want it done up too much - it's meant to be an old chapel, for goodness' sake. But still, a thermometer gives you that lovely, warm "going to a proper church" feeling.

The rest of the year, we just don't bother with Bogwulf Chapel. What's the point going to a proper church the rest of the year, when the season and weather aren't atmospheric? Evensong in early December - that's proper atmospheric, that is. But in April? Who thought that was a good idea?


  1. I like a seasonal church, particularly that is Salt and Light in our lives.

    But this post is mocking the seasonality of the Church of England :)

    I've always wondered how the established Church gets away with having it's year starting at Advent? When 1st January or 6 April is good enough for the Scots and HMRC?

    So, taking 1st January as the Start of the Church year, Epiphany would be Christmas, because that was the traditional date until some old geezers mucked about with the Calendar in the dark ages. (Come to think about it, we are still in the dark ages).

    All else flows from 6th January, with the Church Year ending at Hogmanay on 31st December and to celebrate Robbie Burns.

    That's a post-modern church, not reliant on tradition, but commonsense.

  2. Don't forget the Methodist year. That starts on 1 September.

  3. It was Jewish New Year last week - HQ was shut down. Today it's Yom Kippur and then we have Sukkot in a week.


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