Dangerous Worship Aids

The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley is a blog that makes me laugh most times I visit. (Yes, it's meant to be funny.)

They were very excited about their 'Flag and Maracas Service' this morning.

'Archdruid Eileen' announced that they'd
"never had two such dangerous worship aids in one service before - or, at least, not since Marston's "Gunpowder and Itching Powder" service, and in retrospect that was just plain stupid." 
This got me thinking about 'dangerous worship aids' I've experienced.
  • MARACAS. I'm thinking home-made variety. Who would buy a maraca when you can make one with a recycled washing up liquid bottle, some things to put inside to shake and strong tape to seal the somethings in? This is dangerous if you have children who worship with all their minds and strength. Unlike adults who struggle with child-proof containers, a child will easily break the maraca's seal. If this is done by over vigorous shaking the dried peas will burst forth like shot gun pellets into the faces of the congregation. Don't use dried peas - these are the right size to block a child's windpipe. Large dried beans are better - but not the variety that are poisonous unless boiled for 10 minutes.
  • FLAGS. See the Beaker Folk advice (in the link above) about normal size flags. Giant flags are best left to experts and given an extremely wide berth. As for the 30 foot high banners carried in outdoor processions which have to be steadied in the wind by a team of strong men with guy ropes. Again - best left to the experts and given a wide berth especially on windy days.
  • SOUND SYSTEM OPERATORS who think all worship band music must be at only one decibel level i.e. deafening.
  • GUNS. On at least once occasion in the year, at a church I attend on holiday, the village rifle company stands outside the open great west door of the church. The gospel acclamation responses include the organ with every stop pulled out, a canon fired on the nearby mountainside and the rifle company firing (blanks) into the air outside the open church door. This is the signal for all the young children present to scream. When the noise (including considerable echoes) has subsided the gospel reading is read! Much more exciting than the way the gospel is usually read in the C. of E. (How grateful I am that I've never been at a worship service where real shots have been fired - but in some places this happens.)
  • CANDLES. One of the commonest worship aids (unless you're really 'hot Prot') and definitely the most dangerous. The worst combination is at Christingle services combined with crib services with lots of straw around the manger, especially if your church has no mains water supply. (Fire extinguishers, buckets of water and sand should all be to hand!) I do know of an occasion when a priest friend accidentally backed into a lit candle at a funeral and set his surplice on fire. There was no fire extinguisher or even a large rug to roll him on the floor in. Thanks to quick thinking by the funeral director and a little beating with hassocks (not straw stuffed) the fire was soon extinguished and he was unharmed.
  • BIBLE. Generally used in Christian worship and highly dangerous when misused, even by Christians.

  • Over to you. Have you experienced any 'dangerous worship aids' and if so, what?

Maracas Image by clogsilk


  1. I once had to do some urgent communicating across the pews (when we still had them) to indicate the relationship between the child bouncing on the back of the pew and the stand of candles at the end (yes indeed it was carols by candlelight). I could see disaster right before my eyes. Thankfully someone spotted me and blew out the candles. These days we don't have pews and therefore no pew ends, so any candles are not actually in the congregation.

    Mind you, some huffing and puffing was required for a candlelit flower arrangement last year. ...

  2. The children's Sunday school Christmas candles with dried flower decoration nearly set our house on fire last Christmas - does that count?

  3. Always with the candles...

    I remember the leader of a House Church in Milton Keynes waving a real sword around while singing "There is power in the name of Jesus". Now that was scary.

  4. Thanks for your comments Lucy, Rach and Archdruid Eileen. I'm concluding that worship is not for the faint hearted but for those prepared to take risks. I should have added flower arrangements to my list. I'm remembering when a reader was unaware she had got caught in a large twiggy arrangement by the lectern with near disastrous consequences when she tried to return to her seat.


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