St. MattressPosted: January 29, 2008
One of the disconcerting things about being on sabbatical is not going to your own church on Sunday mornings. While it’s refreshing to “be fed rather than to feed,” this may take some getting used to. It was strange to hear the bells ringing for the 8:00 o’clock service from the comfort of my own bed. Strange but nice.
This is one area of my sabbatical that very much impacts the family. Bryna’s glad not to be a single-parent on Sunday morning but she’s not a big fan of going to new churches every week. We did this together for the first two years of seminary and she got sick of it. People would see a young couple wander in and virtually attack us. “Where you from? Are you looking for a church? Join the Altar Guild!” We were treated like rock stars. But only until they found out I was just a visiting seminarian; then they’d drop us like a bad transmission. Sometimes Bryna would stay and worship at “St. Mattress” while I’d trot off to an early service by myself.
Part of the challenge clergy face when attending other churches is the need to over-analyze the liturgy. It’s a professional hazard. So you find yourself critiquing the sermon rather than letting it speak to you; being distracted by the poorly trained acolytes, questioning the choice of hymns, and getting steamed about the typos in the bulletin. I leave the Coffee Hour critique to the rest of the family.
While the boys were annoyed that they couldn’t go to their own church on Sunday (I’ve never seen them so passionate about going to All Saints’!), they did very well on Sunday. This was much to Bryna’s relief and annoyance since they often don’t well with her in the pews. My saying, “I don’t know what the big deal is” didn’t help. But I recognize it’s tough for them — they’re too comfortable at All Saints’, Dad’s up there but not accessible, and the anticipation of our rockin’ Coffee Hour is tantalizingly palpable.
Oh, and the four of us were treated like royalty. At least until I was forced to admit I was a priest on sabbatical.