If you have travelled with me for any length of time on my journey along the World Wide Super Highway it will not have escaped your attention that my flock at St Cliff’s are not the world’s best when it comes to their ability to concentrate (and with particular reference to my sermons).
Having been the incumbent clergyman here for a fair few years now, it has been a heartfelt ambition of mine to encourage the ‘comatose faithful’ (as the bishop rather unkindly refers to my congregation) to dig a tad deeper when it comes to studying scripture and to ‘put away childish things’.
Having accepted the position at St Cliff’s (re-named in the ‘swinging 60s’ in a moment of madness after a popular Christian crooner of that era) it soon became clear that I had my work cut out if I wanted to be in with even half a chance of getting my flock out of spiritual nappies.
Thus, people falling asleep while I am speaking has not been an uncommon occurrence, but what I hadn’t previously experienced was yours truly nodding off during the course of one of my sermons!
This Sunday, just gone, I had been preaching from the book of Exodus on the enslavement of the Israelites. I will confess to having got rather bogged down with attempting to concoct a meaningful anagram from the initial letters of each pesky pestilence but (due to lack of vowels) found myself with something akin to a bad hand at Scrabble at best, or an unpronounceable Welsh place name at worst.
A combination of the warm summer air and the stupor that had come to rest between my befuddled ears as a result of my machinations sent me slipping gently into the proverbial Land of Nod.
I fear that I would have remained in that place of slumber right through Sunday lunch had I not succumbed to one of my recurrent snoring episodes (my good lady wife prefers to refer to them as her ‘cross which she must bear’) and abruptly startled myself back into the land of the living.
I can only assume that in that sleepy interlude I had begun to imagine myself as Moses himself and I awoke to find those immortal words “Let my people go!” passing loudly over my dribbly lips.
It was obvious that my congregation had not quite appreciated my exegesis on Exodus as much as I had thought they might and without a moments hesitation they responded to my Mosaic pronouncement with a hearty “Amen”, grabbed their personal belongings and raced for the exit, laying holding of their freedom in the manner of the aforementioned Israelites.
Glancing to the clock at the rear of the church I noted to my surprise that it was in fact midday (close of play for our services if you know what is good for you) and realised that I had been asleep longer than I had imagined.
Whilst I have no idea the precise length of time I remained in this slumbery state (nor what my flock were doing during this ‘down time’) one thing I am aware of is that as a result I had inadvertently committed the cardinal sin of all ministers – forgetting to pass the offering bags around.
With my congregation beating a hasty retreat (in the manner of the Israelites), and carrying with them their cash (or Egyptian gold if you wish to continue the metaphor) it was apparent that I had missed the moment.
In that I have to meet with our terrifying treasurer (Mr Clench) first thing tomorrow morning to explain my fiscal failure I can but hope that I, like Moses, have a few tricks up my sleeve to remind him who is in fact boss.
Onward and upward