Greetings to Saint Mary’s Saint Neots from Saint Michael’s Braintree

Firstly may I thank all of you who wished me well on my move to Braintree.   I am truly overwhelmed and I am so pleased that through the miracle of the internet I will be able to keep in contact with you.   It goes without saying that, if any of you find yourself in the Braintree area I would be  delighted to see you.  If you are there before 1 pm I will even treat you to lunch.

As you can see I am now a member of the congregation of Saint Michael’s Church, Braintree. Vicar The Rev Charles Mason. It is a very different church to Saint Mary’s.

I turned up on my mobility scooter at the front door to be greeted by the sight of three steep steps. I went into my helpless disabled pensioner routine and within seconds was surrounded by a host of willing helpers.Yes. There was another way into the church but at the moment it was blocked by sandbags put there to stop the torrential floods which they had had. But not to worry, half a dozen of the most able-bodied would soon remove them, sweep the floor and make way for my entry to the building. And so, without more ado, they did. No one will ever accuse me of not knowing how to make a grand entrance. No-one was unaware that I had arrived.   I was immediately found a place for my scooter, a pile of sheets and books placed in my hand and I was surrounded my many of the friendliest people I have ever met.

The church was full of children and I was informed that the first Sunday of the month was a Children’s Service. This was a special occasion because there were seven christenings including two sets of twins. The pop group, complete with guitar, drums and soloist, struck up the first song. I believe it was ‘Shine Jesus Shine.’  It was the only song I recognised. The Vicar gave way to a chap who he introduced as the Youth Co-ordinator and the service, a cross between playschool and top of the pops proceeded on its merry way.  Everyone had a whale of a time.  I tried hard to enter into the spirit of things but I am afraid my face must have given me away because one kind lady whispered.

‘Don’t worry. It’s only like this on the first Sunday of the month.

The 10 a.m. Service (Which unfortunately is the only one I can manage to get to) is Family Worship.  There is only Holy Communion on the third Sunday.  There is no choir. The hymns did not get any better although the service was much more recognisable.

The sermons, which I must admit were very good and not too long were given at the end of the service. I found this rather odd. As if one felt everything was over and it was time to go for coffee when it all started again.

After the service I was again surrounded with well-wishers, including the Vicar and another gentleman, the spitting image of Roger Henthorne, who was the Honorary Curate, The Rev Stephen Bailey.  He too was very keen on organs, fine wines and France

On my second visit to the church there were large signs ‘Invalid Carriage Entrance Round The Rear’

I knew I had been accepted.

You don’t know how lucky you are with your beautiful church, your enviable bell tower, your choir and mighty organ. I will always remember the many happy years and the many friends I made at Saint Mary’s but things change.

I must close now as I have to be measured for my skin-tight jeans and I don’t want to be late for my acoustic guitar lesson.

John Giffard

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