I have now been employed by the Church of Scotland for two weeks. I made my way to St. Anne's Parish Church on Saturday, August 1, to be sure I could make it there on the bus come Sunday morning. When I got there, a wedding party had gathered for a service MaryAnn Rennie, pastor of St. Anne's, was doing. I had intended to nip in and drop off my preaching robe, have a look around, and head out. Instead, MaryAnn asked if I would like to stay for the wedding service to observe.
I was a bit surprised -- then she explained to me that weddings work a bit differently here for the most part. The vows and the party are often separated by several hours. If you are invited to the party, you may or may not attend the first part with the vows. Most anyone can attend the vows, whether or not you have been invited and only some people dress up for the occasion.
For this wedding, the groom and groomsmen were all in kilts and very nice jackets. Somehow I knew I was in Scotland. The actual vows came early in the order of service and the Scripture readings and short message was done later -- just the opposite of how I have known things to be done. There was also a gift given to the bride and groom from the church. This time, MaryAnn had chosen Ma Broon's Cookbook.
Come Sunday, the day began with the 9:30 a.m. Family Service. This service proved to be a very informal time that is extremely child friendly. MaryAnn plans an activity for the service that will involve everyone who wants to be involved then does a shorter message.
Tea and cake (and coffee) in between services -- and a lot of friendly, welcoming faces who have promised me that they will remind me of their names frequently!
The 11:00 a.m. service was much more formal. Yet it was a comfort to be there, to hear voices raised in song together, to be saying prayers that were familiar. This was followed by lunch with MaryAnn, her husband Keith, and their children Calum and Aileen at the manse (church-owned housing provided for the pastor and family). Then it was off to a short service at a nearby assisted-living facility. Again, some things sound much the same in any country. Sounds of group living and words of encouragement are some of those things.
Come Monday, I was off to a funeral with MaryAnn. For the first time, I attended a service at a crematorium. Cremation is the preferred method of dealing with the body in the city areas here and so, just the way that we frequently have services at funeral homes in the States to make it easier to deal with moving the body around, here they often have services at the crematorium and the body is simply lowered from the upper level of the facility to the lower one. There were no pall bearers, only staff members who brought in the casket. There was music -- both recorded and organ. Once again -- same and different all at the same time.
It was a busy first weekend.