I was on holiday last Sunday. But we still went to church. In fact I went twice! To our own church. We were back in Balham and I couldn’t keep away. I missed them. But I dressed in attire that made it clear that though physically I may be in their midst, emotionally I was still very much in the heart of the French countryside. And I left the briefcase at home. But that left me having to make a decision about what to take to church. It’s not something I usually give much thought to because I just stuff it all in the bag and head off. But what should a normal punter rather than an abnormal pastor like me take to church? Surely at least these six things.
1. A pen. I write things down. I listen to the sermon and I take notes. It helps me concentrate and it helps me to remember things for later. If I don’t take a pen I’m relying on my memory. And mine’s pretty unreliable at the best of times.
2. A notebook. I take copious notes. And as much as I appreciate the space in the service sheet, it’s insufficient for my ramblings. And it means I can write down the names of the new people I sat next to so that I can pray for them and seek them out next week.
3. A diary. I want to see people. And I want to be deliberate about it. And so a diary means I can book up to meet. If there are new people who are looking for a welcoming chuch what better way than to express that than by asking them over for a meal with others at our place?
4. A Bible. It just felt wrong to rely on the fact that there’d be a spare Bible in the seat. And I scribble all over mine because it helps me to engage in God’s word. I wouldn’t want to do that in a church Bible!
5. A mobile. I want to chase up my friends who aren’t there. A mobile enables me to get them on the phone and say [in love] ‘why aren’t you here? We miss you and we’ve started. Don’t give up on Christ and don’t give up on us. Get yourself down here now you muppet!’
6. A wallet. To buy someone a beer. I want to go to the pub afterwards because the church meeting is the formal part of church. Church continues at our The Slippery Slope [not its real name] when we find out from one another how we’re doing and what we made of God’s word.
What have I forgotten?