Wednesday, July 27, 2011

While life goes on ...

We attended a midday Eucharist today in All Saints, Hereford - an ancient, city centre church that was in a bad way until a cafe was set up at the back of the nave. I have been there several times, as the friend with whom I am staying celebrates at the Wednesday lunchtime Eucharist on a regular basis, and we tend to stay to have our lunch in the busy cafe that has been clattering with life and cutlery all through the service.

In a way, it's quite easy to blot out the noise, because it's a feature of the worship during the week: there is a fully-functioning commercial operation there which helps to keep the church open and in decent nick. There is even one of these marvellous pod loos which are the envy of the looless
everywhere. It always makes me think of what it must have been like in first century Jerusalem, where the events of Holy Week were played out against the backdrop of other people's noisy indifference.

In fact, it was harder as we ate our lunch to ignore the behaviour of two children, obviously set loose by their mother to let her eat in peace, who were on the rampage in the choir of the church. When she finally deigned to collect them - before, as she herself said, they trashed the place - she seemed quite oblivious to the fact that their behaviour was totally out of place and was causing considerable irritation to several people.

So what do we do? Do we go on the assumption that we can't snarl at the kids - or their mother - lest they are confirmed in some prejudice about church and religion? Or do we stand up for a sense of place and of decorum and insist that a place of worship isn't a playground where banging the seats up and down is all good clean fun? After all - where and when did we all learn how to behave?

Just asking ...

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  1. Tricky

    Not sure of where the cafe is placed in relation to the church. It seems an odd combination to me.

    For me- if the cafe is part of the church then they've asked for trouble.

    In any case kids should be respectful of anyone else's property.

    Mother should be aware of the affect of her youngsters. It takes a village to raise a child.

    Easier said than done.

  2. The cafe occupies the rear of the nave, behind the two main entrances to the church, which is of cathedral proportions. The front of the nave and the high altar are used on Sundays, when the cafe is closed at least during the service. The weekday lunchtime service is held in the Lady Chapel, so there is a physical barrier between chapel and cafe. It does no, however, keep out sound. The children in question were crashing the folding seats (ancient wooden ones, part of the building) up and down and capering about on the altar steps.