Easter Special pt1 Platt Holy Trinity

The title I’ve chosen for this post is a bit boring, but you should know that I resisted the temptation to call this post the “Ecclesiastical Easter Eggstravaganza”. While I’m fairly sure that would have come across as ironic, given the amount of awful puns I’ve heard to do with Easter I wouldn’t blame you for thinking you were reading The Sun. [edit: I realize this post is now a week late and the Easter festivities have passed, but I have now submitted my final 12000 word dissertation. 750 words were footnotes.]

Easter weekend has been a busy one for me. Not only did I go to church 3 times, but I also got a lot of work done on my dissertation, and went to the cinema with my family.  3 times in 2 days is a whole lotta church, but that is the burden the blogger has to bear. I was actually only intending to go twice, but nefarious circumstances prevailed and took me to what has to be the WORST CHURCH EVER (and thats a pretty bold claim.) More on that later.

Like the passion narrative, I’m gonna do this chronologically.

Easter Friday at Platt Holy Trinity:

I’ve been simultaneously meaning-to-go and trying-to-avoid Platt church for quite a while. It has a reputation for attracting a certain puritanical type of Christian. Thats not a bad thing, I just don’t consider myself to be that type. A friend of mine who is an excellent scholar used to go there, and after attending bible studies for a while, was asked to lead one as her academic knowledge could have something to offer the group. She went for a meeting with the head pastor, so they could check she was “on-message”. They said that she couldn’t lead the group, not because she was a heretic, or a fundamentalist liberal, but because she had a non-Christian boyfriend.  She stopped going shortly after.

My experience at Platt was a bit less personal, and a bit more positive. I arrived there on friday afternoon, walking through Platt Fields park, which was ridiculously beautiful. I went inside and took a seat at the back. Its a beautiful church, much nicer than any of the evangelical churches i’ve been to in the past. To be honest, I think Platt can actually be summed up by the word “nice”. Everyone was very smiley, the hymns were uplifting, the sermon was inoffensive. All of this would be an advert for the place if it weren’t for the fact that we were celebrating the torture, torment, and murder of the cruxified son of God! Everything just had a sheen over it, I swear I saw people’s teeth glinting in the sunlight like in a commercial for toothpaste. While in Christianity the crucifixion of Jesus is a positive thing, there was just something a little bit superficial about the whole experience for me. Faith isn’t about some kind of false sense of security that makes everything in the world “tickety-boo”, it means engaging with the problems of the world with your own set of guidelines. While joy should be central to worship, no one is in a positive emotional state all the time, and happines should not be seen as the only emotion that you are allowed to express.

The service was supposedly a “meditation on the cross”. As someone who has done a bit of meditation here and there, there was none at Platt, but the service was focussed around the cross in that there was one at the front of the church. There was a reading of Matthew’s passion narrative, which tells the story of the death of Jesus, and a few hymns played on piano. Matthew’s passion narrative features the famous arahmaic saying of Jesus ” Eloi Eloi Lama Sabacthani”, or “Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?” One of the most challenging passages of the bible, and the system of a down song, but I’m not sure I feel Platt did it justice. They mentioned the suffering of Jesus, but I couldn’t help but feel a little passion wouldn’t have been misplaced. The hymns were better than I expected too, although I suffered from an instinctive cringe when the girl in front of me put her hands in the air during the crescendo of one of them. I don’t know why, but I’m happy to raise my hands in the air at a concert, but in church it just seems a little wierd to me. Maybe its the style of worship I’m accustomed to, or maybe its the repressed Englishman trying to get break his way out.

Platt is somewhere you should go if you want to be happy. It is very “middle England” and there is nothing wrong with that. If you like your Jesus with a side of acoustic guitar and dock-shoes, then I would recommend Platt. The congretation is friendly, there was a lot of reading of the bible and they put Jesus into easily understood terms. I feel I may go back to Platt on another sunny morning when I need cheering up. It does, however, have a little-too-perfect sheen that any recovering cynic will find a little distasteful.

Church Shopper

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About churchshopper

CS is a Manchester based student looking for God, or more specifically, looking for Church. I have been "church-shopping" for a few months now, and I have realized that there are a large number of people who share my situation. Perhaps you have just moved to Manchester and have not found a church that appeals to you yet. Perhaps you have become disillusioned with your old church and fancy a change. Perhaps you have no history of church-going, and are interested in what the fuss is about. Because this blog is readable by everyone, CS will attempt to make it accessible and not too filled with ecclesiastical (church-related) jargon, or at least with a bit of clarification. About me: I have history of being involved with an evangelical youth movement, but it was far too conservative for me. My negative experiences there, as well as growing doubts and uncertainties in my head, led to me stop attending church for a number of years. Over the past year, however, I have been filled with a spiritual yearning for worship and community. I have an appreciation for the theology of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Tom Wright, the retired bishop of Durham, and Dave Tomlinson, author of "Post-Evangelical". This blog will chart my journey around the various worship communities in Manchester.

2 thoughts on “Easter Special pt1 Platt Holy Trinity

  1. I dunno how much you know about platt and the movements its in but I find church taxonomy really interesting so thats why I’m writing this comment. However platt are part of a group of either “bible-teaching” churches, or conservative evangelicals that are linked to All Soul’s Langham Place and St Helen’s in London. (Marked by doing christianity explored instead of alpha and being into reformed theology).

    Anyways, I found out recently at a talk on “true spirituality” as a conference called New Word Alive (which is massively linked to UCCF and all of them) that they have a very specific stance of meditation. They were specifically against what catholics and emerging church types would call meditation. They said all true spirituality has to involve words and really its more like reflecting on words of the bible.

    As I said, I don’t think this stuff matters but I find how different movements approach this kind of stuff interesting. I did a bit of church hopping too and been going back to that again so its been fun seeing your thoughts on them. I definitely think its interesting how much your “britishness” seems to impact your attitude towards churches compared to my “half-britishness” (I went to a church full of lots of chinese when I was younger)

  2. Thanks for your informative comment James. I am interested in Church taxonomy (to put it that way!), although my knowledge basically boils down to different movements in the Anglican church (i.e. Fulcrum, Affirming Catholicism, Reform, SCP). It was obvious to me that Platt was conservative evangelical, and probable that they are “bible-believing” (a misnomer in my opinion).

    “They said all true spirituality has to involve words” Well that is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. Are they denying all religious experiences other than tongues? What about a strong sense of personal fulfillment at Communion (which I have experienced). I am quite strongly opposed to the UCCF, they are far too exclusivist for my liking, implying that catholics and non-evangelicals aren’t Christians.

    I find it interesting that you comment on my Britishness. I was actually raised in India and the Philipines, although my church experience there was somewhat limited. Do you think the Britishness comes across in my reverence for old, pretty buildings, my noticing the “internationality” of churches, or something else?

    The Church Shopper.

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