9th October 2011

A slightly later start this morning as first service isn’t until 11am. Elisabeth has done sausage and egg for breakfast! It’s a full day ahead, with three services – all celebrating Harvest Thanksgiving. Elisabeth suggests that at each service I introduce myself briefly at the beginning as part of the notices, then read the gospel (in English), lead congregation in one of intercessions, assist in distribution of communion and give the blessing.

The first service is at Agunnaryd, and I hear the first of a range of excellent music from the churches. The choir here enjoy a lively leadership and sing a range of anthems, traditional and modern, including a John Rutter blessing song in English (The Lord bless you and keep you). It is good to see some familiar faces, such as young people from the confirmation group, Elisabeth’s Romanian handyman, and some of Elisabeth’s parish colleagues.  I use my faltering Swedish (My name is… I come from…), explain that I am in Sweden as part of my sabbatical (E keen to let people hear about this practice which has been discontinued in the church in Sweden!) and bring warm greetings from the diocese of Oxford.

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After the service there is a harvest lunch together. I have to ‘sing’ for my lunch as afterwards Elisabeth gets me to talk about the church in England, about St John’s church, Kidlington which is a hall church and used by the community during the week (Elisabeth is very struck by this and wants to encourage the congregation to think about whether this could be done in the parish here), and about the spirit of the church in England. Again, I hope that I am doing justice to representing the church I belong to!

The next service is at Ryssby, and follows an identical order of service. Again, good to see a few faces I recognise. More great music here – it’s a little more classical and traditional here with organ accompaniment. Some of the women are in traditional national costume – which is handmade and varies according to the part of Sweden you come from. After the service there is coffee and cake… and the raffle! Yes, raffle really is a universal church activity! The raffle is used to sell off the harvest produce that has been brought and will go to charity work overseas. While we are eating and talking, Elisabeth suddenly asks me whether I would like to come along on the first day of moose hunting, the following day? My heart jumps, as deep down I have felt a great intrigue for this event which sounds so alien and is so outside my experience, yet I want to know more – and when will I get another opportunity to have such an experience? So.. I say yes please! Arrangements will be made to delay my journey to Växjö by a day.

 

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The evening service takes place at Tutaryd, a small church building that I haven’t yet been in. It looks very different to Ryssby and Agunnaryd – it’s a warm, wooden building in the forest, by a lake. The decoration inside is rather breathtaking – lots of gilt, colourful cherubs and a bit OTT! The worship is slightly different here – a more reflective service with silence and meditation. Another lovely choir here and the music includes Rutter (in Swedish) and some original music – a world premiere with words written by Camilla, put to music by the organist Oskar. http://www.svenskakyrkan.se/default.aspx?id=565270 It works well, and is a good way to end the day.

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I really enjoyed being part of all the worship. I gradually felt more confidence in taking part, relaxed more so that I could say my prayers alongside those being said in a different language. It felt very blessed to have been alongside Elisabeth, seeing a strong woman presiding and being in good relationship with the people she serves and knows. I saw a great model of leadership, of stirring people into growth, into trying something new – in liturgy and discipleship.

Back at Elisabeth’s house preparations begin for the hunt the next day. I am asked searching questions about the weatherproof nature of clothes that I have, and am finally loaned some waterproof clothes for the next day. Though she is tired, Elisabeth begins cooking yellow bean soup for 30 people – it’s what she always does for the hunting party lunch. We will need to be up early the next day – out by 8am.

I’m going on a moose hunt!

 

 

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