This is a deeply unfashionable subject, but it's my blog and I want to raise it:
What do people find in Church of Scotland services? Why do they go? Presumably they are Christians - but what sustenance does the service give them? If a congregation is fortunate enough to have a gifted and thoughtful preacher as their minister, then they will at least be stimulated and perhaps moved by the sermon, but other than that? Bellow five hymns, sit passively through several extempore prayers - the quality of which again will depend on the ability of the incumbent - and that's it. Unless, of course, it's one of the infrequent communion services.
I was brought up in the Kirk. One of my great-uncles was a minister. I went till my early teens and then had had enough. I'd still be unchurched, 50 years on, if that was all that was available. I was reminded of it today when an acquaintance was bemoaning the dreadful sermon he'd had to suffer - all 20 minutes of it - on Christmas Eve. He no longer goes to church on a regular basis because it is so boring.
Sermons in the Scottish Episcopal church - to which I belong - are not the central part of the liturgy. The Eucharist is. The prayers are well-written and familiar enough to provide a vehicle for meditation. With or without music, the service can be beautiful. The celebrant can be a wonderful preacher - but it doesn't matter so much. There is movement, congregational participation and silence. There is a sense of "other" - it is not mundane.
And there are so few of us that we all know one another. Not entirely a good thing, as we're lumbered with a lovely but scabby building to maintain. But I'd love to hear from someone out there who can tell me why I'm arrogant, self-satisfied or just plain wrong about all this.