Monday, July 10, 2006

Sometimes your watch beeps and its God

This post and all others have been moved to this sites new home on www.peterneill.eu

Combine the following concepts:

Accident Prone, Bishop's son, Woman Priest, Bishop, Dad, Ordination, Star Trek, Alarms, Formal Church Service.

Ladies and Gentleman, What can possibly go wrong?


The year was 1996 and a good friend of mine, a woman called Paula was about to be ordained. My dad was the Bishop of the diocese, and as such he was the one who was going to ordain her.
Anyway, as you can imagine, an ordination is quite a formal occasion. Everyone is there wearing their Sunday best and relations gather from near and far. Paula had very kindly asked me to take part in the service. This meant that I had to wear one of those fancy garments, but also to hold the HUGE book that dad was reading from while he had his hands on her head whilst praying for her during the actual ordination ceremony.

Now for a bit of back ground. Many of you know that I am a bit of a Star Trek geek and that during the 90's Sky 1 used to broadcast it every day at 5pm. Well since I was such a big fan I never wanted to miss an episode and as such had a rather funky watch with support for two separate alarms. Been the geek that I was, one was set daily for 4.55pm and the other for 4.57 pm, just in case I was mid-fight with my brother and missed the alarm.

Before the service all went well at first, there was the usual hymns and prayers before we got to the ordination and I was sitting quietly to myself waiting for my part.
I would ask you to remember as well at this point that the church in which this was happening was a biggish church with high ceilings which meant any small sound was amplified ten times by the architecture.
Sure enough my part came along and I was signaled to come to the front of the church while Paula knelt on a cushion in front of my father who was going to lay hands on her head and pray for her. I made my way, quite scared I must point out, to the front and received a HUGE prayer book. It was way too large to hold with one arm and when held by my two arms and leant against my chest, felt like it was pushing my teeth into the back of my skull.

Once I got comfortable my dad began the ceremony and read off several prayers from the book I was holding in front of him. Things were going along nicely and I remember dad getting to the point where he asked Paula a question in part of the ceremony. It was something along the lines of: "Do you Paula promise to help bring others to faith........" Paula went to answer the question and suddenly BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. The 4.55pm Star Trek Alarm!! I tried desperately to stop it while dad tried to continue on. I could not believe just how loud my little casio managed to be in these surroundings. To my frustration, there was simply no way I could stop it. I needed to use one hand to click the watch button, but while holding this huge book, it just was not possible. I could not put it down either as a) there was nowhere to put it and b) Dad was reading the ceremony from it.

After what seemed like an eternity (30 seconds) the beeping stopped and I breathed a sigh of relief and dad continued on with the ceremony.

Suddenly however I was horror stricken! In 90 seconds the alarm was going to go off AGAIN!! At 4.57!!! I tried to catch my dad's eye to tell him to hurry it up, but to no avail, his eyes were focused sharply on the book. Sweat began to run down my forehead and I was sure the pages were going to get stuck together. The seconds were counting down and I knew I did not have much time left. I knew there was nothing I could do, there was simply no way for me to stop my watch. I looked around helplessly, but to no avail.
Suddenly I thought my luck was changing, for a moment I thought I was saved, Dad was finishing up. You can always tell, the tone changes towards the end of a prayer. He was just getting to the end of the prayer, the bit where he declares the person as been ordained when it came:

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP.

I was horror stricken but at the same time I was fighting not to burst out laughing, I actually drew blood from my lip I was biting it so hard. My dad managed to keep going somehow and finished the ceremony.
Paula the newly ordained priest told me afterward that she thought maybe God was telling her something.

If thats the case, God must love Sci-Fi.

1 comment:

Luana said...

Absolutely hilarious! I love this story ... I really felt your anguish. I'm always amazed at the funny things that happen during "solemn" moments; usually in a church setting. Our pastor accidentally makes a really funny remark and immediately says "Now, let us pray" ... then I bite my lip like you did.
Luana Krause