So this is my summer holiday confession: I don’t go to church when I am on holiday.
I have tried, but it’s hard to feel you belong when you are just visiting. Sometimes we have found ourselves ignored, and other times we have been wonderfully welcomed, but as soon as I am asked what I do for a living I find I am somehow back at work. I guess doctors find themselves in a similar predicament. The other problem I have is that I find myself critically analysing the service rather than losing myself in worship. I’m not proud of it, but in a previous life I was a drama student and trained to view performances critically, it’s a hard habit to break.
My family don’t want to lose me to work again either, so for us to worship in our down time it has to be something completely different from the village churches we attend, or tend to, at home. Spring Harvest, for example, couldn’t be more different – coffee and cake after church are great, but a dip in a fun pool is so much better. And mum is completely out of the picture all morning (which works well both ways!).
I have even tried creating our own beach liturgy, which has been better received: collecting litter as we make our confession, creating collages out of driftwood, stones and shells has been our praise, writing prayers in the sand and watching God sweep them up in the tide… taking bread and wine down to the shore for our communion was less successful battling as we did with wind and sand.
Perhaps Sabbath breaks and summer holidays are more about the need to be restored as a family unit than to worship, when mum’s a vicar?
Vanessa is an ordained priest in the Church of England, serving in a team of seven churches in rural Hampshire. She currently shares the rectory with her husband, two daughters and two cats. The menagerie is due to acquire more chickens in the spring and possibly a dog later in the year. Vanessa blogs at www.nothinglikeadane.wordpress.com and you can follow her at www.facebook.com/thewallopingvicar or @wallopingvicar