This Sunday, I attended Mainstone Old Meeting Baptist Church, an ancient church close by Mainstone Hall, Suffolk, where my old friend Lord Ambrose Vaughan lives. I go there whenever I want to make Mike - Mr. Rake - jealous. Lord Ambrose has tons of money and is unmarried. His family have been baptists for many years.
The chapel is ancient, as the picture shows, and is a prestigious place. The old minister retired some months ago, and has recently been replaced by a younger man.
Dr. Robert Gable was a very well known man, and his sermons reached a very wide public. His replacement, only five years out of theological college, in which time he pastored a small rural church in Somerset, is somewhat awed by the congregation, as he once attended the church. Accordingly, the young man, the Rev. Wayne Heap, tries to fill the older man's shoes.
His children's talks have been variable. The last one, according to Lord Ambrose, involved different brands of shaving foam, which precisely no child understood.
This time, the young minister had a new idea. He produced a rocket from the high pulpit and asked what it was. This time, every child was able to identify it. The Minister said he was going to lauch it, and threw it into the chapel. It sailed along for a bit, before landing on the head of one of the deacons. He laughed, treating it as an immense joke, while his wife tried to staunch the bleeding from his wounded head.
The Minister then stated the obvious. The rocket had not gone far because it was only projected by man's power. This, he declared, was like the gospel preached in the power of man. It didn't go very far. What was needed was power. At this point he produced a second rocket. We all hoped he wasn't going to demonstrate.
When he produced a firelighter, however, the elders ran for the pulpit. They were too late, for the firework started to fizz. It flew into the congregation and detonated against the back gallery.
I still haven't got the gunpowder stains out of my white dress.