Friday, June 18, 2010

Learning to Live in England, Part 09

Sunday 13 June

David and Julia had offered, earlier in the week, to go to church with us at their home church, St. Michael's, Aughton. They hadn't been for a longish time, David said. He wasn't sure whether it would be the happy-clappy version of the service or not, so we took our chances.

Well, there was just one happy-clappy bit (and yes, it did involve clapping), and that was that song about, 'Shine, Jesus, shine!' Shine on me. Sounds good; what does it mean? 'Blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire.' That also sounds good, but tell me what it means.

The Gospel of the day was the story in Luke about the woman who poured perfume on Jesus' feet and dried them with her hair. And I must say, and we did say to the Vicar, that his sermon on the Gospel was excellent. He spoke of how being forgiven much creates in us much love, and he brought in the phrase from the Lord's Prayer about 'forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.' (The Orthodox do not pray this if there is anyone we haven't forgiven.) He spoke of the difficulty, yet the necessity, of forgiving each other, and of how much easier that becomes when we are aware of our own need for forgiveness.

The Vicar read the Scriptures in beautiful, proper English, and then preached the sermon in Scouse!  That's the local dialect.

Here I have to interject one of my favorite stories about becoming aware of sin. One time when Demetrios and I were shopping, we were in a huge hurry, for reasons I have long since forgotten. Anyway, the girl at the checkout till was not in a hurry at all. In fact, she was tired. She was also black and had some sort of a chip on her shoulder. She served us as slowly as humanly possible, and very sullenly. The whole process took a full 10 minutes. As we walked away, Demetrios turned to me and said, 'And how many times have you sinned in the last 10 minutes?' I was aghast. Hundreds? Thousands? There was no counting the number of uncharitable thoughts I had entertained. Countless sins, in ten minutes, and I would never have been aware of them, had not Demetrios pointed them out!

How many sins in an hour, a day, a week, of which we remain mostly unaware?

We stopped for coffee in the parish hall church house later, where a very amiable woman named May came and chatted with us. She is from Liverpool, and entertained us with stories of life there. Especially fun was her description of New Year's Eve in Liverpool. She said at the stroke of midnight, everyone comes outdoors with hugs for all and greetings of 'Happy New Year!' and 'All the best!' and in the harbor, all the ships blow their horns, and all this commotion would go on for about 20 minutes.  Or at least, that's the way it used to be, in the old days.

This church has a rooster at the top of its steeple. I do not know why a rooster instead of a cross, but David and his brother used to take pot shots at it with their rifles. Target practice, it was. 'When you hit it, it spun around,' David said, adding that every once in a while the parish would have to replace it, and nobody ever understood how, from time to time, the rooster would come to be in such bad condition.

He and Julia took us shopping in between church and Sunday dinner. We found two bathroom cabinets in a store very much like Home Depot, called B&Q. Two cabinets, because we can use all the storage space we can get in such a small place. One will be for our toiletries, the other for bathroom tissue and extra boxes of Kleenex and the like.

We also found the sofa we want. Currently, we have two loveseats two-seaters and that's really all that fits. Still, Demetrios wants to be able to stretch out and nap in the living room. So we were hoping to find a three-seater that wouldn't overwhelm the room, or make it look like what it was: an attempt to cram as much furniture into the room as possible.

David had the solution, and demonstrated it: a two-seater, each side of which is a recliner. The dimensions are only 62" long by 34" deep, and it comes in white, perfect!  We can both stretch out!

We didn't have time actually to order it, as we needed to rush to get to the restaurant on time, where David had booked a table.

We had a beautiful meal at the Swan Inn Restaurant (not chosen, presumably, to tease Demetrios about his recent misadventure with a swan). A locally famous TV chef is half-owner, Marco Pierre White.  (What's with the italian first name, French middle name, and English last name surname?)
Kim and James joined us. Nick, the younger son, had planned to, but he became all involved with moving into his new apartment, and ran out of time to shower and shave and such. So we missed him, but hope to see him again soon.

We almost all had the lamb, cooked beautifully in a yummy sauce, served with mashed carrot something and vegetable medly.  Two of us had beef instead.  David and I had sticky toffee pudding for dessert.

After the meal, it was back home for a much-needed rest.


Anam Cara said...

I don't know for certain, but I believe the rooster is there to remind people to always confess Jesus is the Christ - a reminder of what Peter didn't do in Luke 22:34.

I've studied medieval ecclesiastical architecture and at one time had hoped there would be a way to get an advanced degree in it, but it turns out it is just a dissertation topic.

I believe the rooster on the steeple began around AD 1000 if I remember correctly and the cross on a steeple is the more modern idea.

As a side note, you don't find a lot of churches from before 1000 in Western Europe, not because people didn't have them, but because they were all made of wood. They didn't really start using stone and brick because those materials were so expensive until the "turn of the millenium" when they realized that perhaps it would be longer 'til Jesus returned than they had previously thought! Before then, they lived in constant expectation - why do all that work if the end of the age/earth was imminent?

It sounds like you are having such a wonderful time. I am envious of your time there.

margaret said...

The rooster will be a weather-vane as well I think.

Wonderful point about the ten minutes at the till. I had a priest once who said sins weren't sins unless we DID something and I always felt wretched because I know so much of what goes through my head is sin but I could never confess it.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Thanks for the education re roosters; that's interesting!