Uwe Siemon-Netto’s “Melancholy Christmas Postscript”

A dismal recollection.

I recall the first time I was present that a congregant became syncopal (fainted) during the liturgy in our parish. It was at the beginning of the service, during the Gloria in excelsis, that the elderly woman fainted dead away. A nurse and I were at her side within seconds, determining that her heart rate was fairly slow, but that, with her having in fainting assumed a supine position in the pew in which her lowered blood pressure was able to get blood to her brain more effectively, she was coming around. Immediately on our attending on the woman, our rector (who, some 17 years later, is still our rector) immediately called the filled church to their knees in prayer, leading us in the office for Ministration to the Sick. Once we were able to move her to a place that the paramedics could more easily get to her, on passing by the sanctuary the rector had us stop so that he could lay hands on the woman and anoint her with oil. Our having carried her to church library (just at hand) to await the arrival of the paramedics, and the office for the sick having been prayed through, the rest of the church resumed the liturgy with the Collect of the Day.

For a truly startling contrast with Dr Siemon-Netto’s experience in an English parish church, read Acts 20:7-12.

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