Following on my post from last week about our not so grand experience of being visitors at church I received a couple of comments that suggested I tend to focus on the negative or that I need to change my attitude.
Sadly as we have travelled I have had way more disturbing and frustrating experiences of church than I have had encouraging and inspiring. But last night was one that offered some hope… and with Anglicans… (yes I smirked too… 🙂 )
We are staying with Danelle’s sister in the coal mining town of Muswellbrook about 2 hours from Newcastle and we decided to visit their community last night. I almost didn’t go Ellie was wanting to stay home and I didn’t want another lamentable experience to add to the pile.
But at the last minute Ellie changed her tune and I was able to join the rest of the crew. The experience was as refreshing as it was simple.
We arrived at the church hall bang on time for the 6pm service along with about 40 others of all ages. Perhaps because of my experience last week I was rapt to walk in and have a group of 3 blokes immediately open up and welcome me in. Nothing particularly hard about that, but they did it.
The service began with a woman leading proceedings while the kids played with some toys down by the front. The vibe was not one of having to have it all right, but the focus seemed to be on the sense of being a family and doing things together.
There were songs, prayers and a kids bit and then the kids moved to the side of the hall to do an activity. A little later when they were looking a little restless the minister stepped up and took them outside for a ‘run around’. This was very impressive as the minister obviously saw ‘running around’ with the kids as part of his contribution to the night.
The bloke preaching was the local prison chaplain and while it wasn’t an unforgettable sermon, it did sound real and honest. When it was all said and done we stood around and chatted before heading home.
The big difference between this week and last week?…
Friendly people across the board who seemed glad to have us there (even if were tourists)
A very unpretentious vibe.
A sync between what they say they are about and what they behaved like.
No doubt its a church with its strengths and weaknesses like every other, but if I were to live in the town then I’d have no hesitation in spending a bit more time with the good people of Muswellbrook Anglican.