Chapter 7 : Chapter 6: Who Let Him Preach!?
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A/N: I am NOT a historian, although I did a bit of research on Medieval Catholic churches, I decided that translating everything to Latin would be tedious and that is why I went with a modern Lutheran service for this chapter. So don’t take this as something you can put in a history paper, because I didn’t mean for it to be that way. I just meant for this to be a fun chapter. The church service I used can be located in the Lutheran Book of Worship. It does not, in any way, represent the current Lutheran Church and the old Catholic church would have used a chant and not a song, but this is not supposed to be accurate, so you’ve been warned.
Thanks to my beta, Oomahey, for all of your hard work!!
Chapter 6: Who Let Him Preach!?
Neville gazed out at the congregation around him in the large stone building, completely at a loss for words. It did not matter that Hermione was standing above him, telling him to greet people, and it did not matter that many people were seated silently, waiting for him to start the service, Neville hated being the center of a large crowd. He had just then realized how it felt to have hundreds of people pinning you with their eyes, watching your every move. Why did I have to wake up this morning!?
“Neville!” Hermione harsh whisper barely permeated the fog that swirled in his brain. “Get started on the service right now!”
“Hermione, I just…” He took a huge gulp of air and straightened his shoulders. “Right, I’m going.” Neville walked resolutely over to the pulpit and turned to face the group, still unsure of what to say. “Hermione, what do I say?”
“Say ‘good morning’ and then we will start the service,” Hermione commanded.
“Go-good morning, everyone,” Neville spluttered.
The congregation remained completely silent, just staring at him. One woman in the back coughed softly and they all jumped when the door to the church flew open with a loud BANG! Ginny came striding in, an entourage of older women hurrying along in her wake.
“Neville!” Ginny’s face was a picture of delight when she caught sight of him. She picked her skirts up and ran full tilt towards the raised platform. He stepped out of the pulpit as she threw herself at him and hugged him tightly, seemingly intent on squeezing the life out of him. Sharing a castle with only the ferret for company does that to people, I suppose.
Then entire room let out a simultaneous gasp.
“Ginny!” Hermione’s voice came down to them as they broke apart.
Ginny glared up at her. “What?” she asked mulishly.
“You are royalty, and you should never hug a man in public Especially someone who is not your husband, and certainly not a priest!” Hermione sounded almost hysterical by the time she finished her rant.
Neville and Ginny looked around at the group and he saw that her ladies-in-waiting all had their hands over their mouths and each of the members of the church had a look of stunned horror upon their face. Neville was completely frozen, feeling the piercing sting of their judgmental eyes resting on him.
Ginny, however, was not frozen. “Oh! Friar Tuck,” she gushed and put one hand up to her forehead and another to her chest as if she were about to swoon. “Thank you so much for catching me after I tripped! I would have fallen and hurt myself if you hadn’t caught me!” Her eyes were wide and seemed to be filled with gratitude, though they carried in them a twinkle of laughter and mischief.
It was so stupid a lie that even he, the indubitable gull of Gryffindor, could see through it. Neville could see that Ginny was trying to suppress the smirk that was threatening to erupt on her face; he was sure it wouldn’t work but to his astonishment, all of the people in the room relaxed and smiled up at him. She’s done it!
“There ya go then,” Ginny told him cheekily before going to take her place in the first row. Her ladies-in-waiting sat in the pew behind her. She winked up at him and he gave her a small smile. Maybe, just maybe, I can do this.
Hermione cleared her throat and he moved back over to the pulpit. “Now, I’m going to tell you what to say and you just repeat it with feeling, ok?”
“How come they can’t hear you?” Neville asked suddenly. He was surprised that none of the others had said anything about the floating cloud with the talking, and somewhat, bossy, head above them.
Hermione now sounded amused when she answered. “They will ignore me and anything you say to me. Are you ready?”
“Yes,” Neville said evenly. “Let’s get on with the show.”
Hermione spoke from above him, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Neville repeated it fairly easily, even though he still quaked inside.
The entire room said, “Amen,” at the same time, the loud noise startling him slightly.
Hermione went again, “Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy name, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
Neville gulped and tried to repeat it, “Almighty God whose heart is open has no secrets. Clean the Holy Spirit and magnify your Holy name through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Hermione groaned and the entire congregation gasped in horror.
“You have to say that again in smaller bits,” Neville hissed up at her. “I can’t possibly remember that much!”
Ginny giggled quietly and Neville blushed.
Hermione let out a sigh. “Okay, we’ll try this again.”
This time they went through it slowly and at the end, the congregation intoned in unison, “Amen.”
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” Hermione fed him the line. He repeated it perfectly, and if the peasants noticed that their priest was going very slowly, they did not comment.
“But if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” Hermione told him.
Neville nodded and spoke. “But if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and…” Oh bloody hell, what comes next? Neville looked up in a panic.
“Cleanse us from all unrighteousness!” she said quickly.
“Cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” Neville repeated dutifully.
“Please kneel,” Hermione said.
Neville knelt down.
“NOT YOU NEVILLE!!” Hermione cried out, obviously exasperated.
He got hastily to his feet, nearly falling back down when his foot caught in his robe. “Well, I’m sorry! You told me to kneel so I did!” Neville was more than a little miffed at her by this point.
“Tell them to kneel,” Hermione instructed him as she waved a hand out, indicating the others in the room.
He took a deep breath, trying to calm the tension that was emanating throughout him. “Please kneel.” They all did.
“Now say, Most Merciful God,” Hermione said, more calmly now.
“Most Merciful God,” Neville said, waiting for more instructions and almost peeved that she thought he couldn’t remember more than three words but the synchronized voices caused him to jump.
The peasants were all speaking, droning on as one. “We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.”
Neville looked over to see that Ginny had her head bowed and that her shoulders were shaking, obviously in mirth. She would find this funny, Neville mused silently.
They kept going. “We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.”
Then there was silence and he looked up, waiting for Hermione to give him further instruction.
He didn’t have to wait long. “Almighty God, in his mercy, has given his Son to die for us and, for his sake, forgives us all our sins.”
That part came out all right, although he did stutter when he said ‘die’.
“As a called and ordained priest of the Holy Catholic Church, and by His authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins,” Hermione told him and he repeated it but he broke out into a heavy sweat. Surely I am going to go to hell for this one! I can’t forgive their sins. Neville glanced around nervously, hoping that there wouldn’t be a storm and lightning wouldn’t fall from the heavens and strike him dead. Then he let out a laugh, Hermione could do that for God. Oh, I’m a dead man!
Then he realized he’d missed a line because they were all sitting, waiting for him to speak. Hermione was on it though, and she fed him the line again. Neville repeated it, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Again, the response was, “Amen.”
“Now you need to give a sermon,” Hermione informed him.
“What am I supposed to say?”
“Just make it up and sound like you know what you’re talking about,” she replied.
“Great, just great.” Neville muttered and looked around the room and tried to remember any sermon he’d heard in his life but mostly his Gran’s voice came back to him. Well, I should go with what I know and Gran feels like she knows what’s best for everyone. “Today, we are gathered while so many are hungry and we have eaten.” It was lame, but looking around he could see that a few people looked gaunt and very thin. What else can I say? “So, if you have enough then you should be helping to feed those who do not have enough.” That sounded pretty good.
Neville cleared his throat and went on. “If you feel like you are being repressed then you should pray to God for a hero,” he felt like he should boost Robin’s reputation a bit. “Be kind and humble and don’t feel like you are not as good as anyone else.” He cringed, knowing that was terrible. Neville knew he had to get away from the sermon and into something else. What did I do in church? Then it hit him. “Now, we’re going to sing!”
Hermione groaned and said something like, “I’m glad we waited for Martin Luther and the Reformation.”
But then she gasped as music began to float into the room and they began to sing, just one or two at first before the others joined in, and to Neville it sounded more like chanting, and with very little feeling. It was very odd to Neville but he didn’t much care, this left him free.
“You are God; we praise you. You are the Lord; we acclaim you. You are the eternal Father; all creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, cherubim and seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.”
Neville was amused to see that Ginny looked out of place, as she didn’t know the song. She was fiddling with her skirt, looking down at her feet and he could tell she was blushing. Serves her right for laughing at me.
“The glorious company of apostles praise you. The noble fellowship of prophets praise you. The white robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you:”
“What do I do after this?” Neville asked hurriedly, wanting to be gone from this place as quickly as possible.
“Father, of majesty unbounded; your true and only Son, worthy of all worships; and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide. You, Christ, are the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When you became man to set us free, you did not spurn the virgin’s womb.”
Neville had to strain to hear her over the noise of the room. “You dismiss them and we’ll leave. If we stay any longer they’ll know you are a fraud and don’t speak to Ginny again or they will gossip.”
“Okay,” Neville nodded and watched them wrap up the song.
“You overcame the sting of death, and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come and be your judge. Come, then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.”
Finally it was over. “Go in peace and serve the Lord!” He remembered that much from his youth.
“Amen,” they replied and Neville fled out the side door as fast as he could without tripping on his robe.
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