This is not a post about Aumbries, before you ask!
It is a matter of some mirth in our community that our friends from Zimbabwe always arrive for services late. Once, I was asked to bless the marriage of a wonderful couple, and to perform that ceremony at Noon on a given Saturday. At 12.05pm, I was to be found in the church kitchen making myself a coffee, which I then savoured for the next half an hour in an empty church before even husband and wife arrived, let alone the supporting cast!
On most Sundays, at the point when I have completed my little round of pre-Mass chores and preparations and toddle off to robe, the church looks empty. That would be four minutes before we process in. By the the time the first note of the first hymn thunders forth, the church is half full. By the end of the Collect, it is normally well packed. For us that is normal.
My Boss and I are invited to a celebration in September, which starts at 2pm I think. He has been invited to given Opening Prayer at 4pm. You get the idea.
We are all quite open about it. Leg pulling happens on both sides, but I thought I would consider this more fully in preparation for the aforementioned Mass last week.
I am one for promptness. To be honest, I get the proper hump when someone is late, and I get an ever great cob on if I am the one who is late. On time-keeping, I have a minor OCD (though my Training Incumbent may at times be forgiven for thinking that I perhaps cope rather well with 'cutting it fine' - something I am guilty of all too often). It is another Western thing, added to by the likes of Gina Ford as modern parents are guided to raise their children by absolute meticulous routine (finally, I can blame that woman for something). Same for our faith and its expression.
8am Holy Communion
9.15 Morning Prayer
10am Sung Eucharist
We have made our faith a matter of appointment. We give God an hour here and an hour there - though we make sure that we are on time, of course. There is a danger, thereby, of placing God back in his box for the rest of time as we toddle off to the next appointment for which we must of course be on time. It is a Western thing.
But not an African thing. As I said last week, if we give God time by appointment only, then they give him the time between waking and ... waking. They are never late for a service, simply because they started their worship and praise many hours before we did.