The church looked great last night. After all our hard work cleaning, the floor gleamed and the pews were dust-free. Several huge floral displays were banked up at the front of the church - there is a wedding today.
But last night's occasion was of greater significance than even a wedding . After nearly a year without a vicar, the time had arrived for the new one to be formally introduced - inducted - into the church.
It was quite a performance. All the local churchmen were there, the Dean of Guernsey, various lay readers - all robed up and sitting behind the altar facing a packed church. There was much standing up and sitting down, surrounding various rituals - ringing the bell, washing hands in water at the font and promising to baptise, accepting the key to the door, a bible, a prayer book, a concordance; making countless solemn promises.
It was all quite beyond the experience of most of us. We are indeed an Anglican church, but very informal. Ritual and liturgy are kept very low key, happening seldom. Responses among the congregation encompassed incredulity, bewilderment, amazement, amusement...
Yet it was all very comforting. Hearing the new vicar who will be leading the church make promises was reassuring. He confirmed that he will guide us according to the beliefs of the Anglican church. Of course, there is a careful selection process, but there was still something inherently safe about the whole service. Our new leader will, we hope, continue to take us on in our lives with Jesus, without sidetracks or distraction. We are all pointed in the same direction, and the induction service confirmed it.