The Mystery Worshipper report I did recently from our holiday is now up: read it here.
This is our local parish church, and is where we will be heading for the midnight service (at 11.30, go figure). I thought I’d better take the picture early, as there is a yellow alert for rain on Christmas Day, and the rain has already started.
I did my last minute Christmas shopping, on the way back the sun was really low in the sky, I loved these silhouetted trees.
This Christmas card was designed by our niece.
Looks like Christmas is coming 🙂
Today our new rector was installed at church, what a lovely service it was, though bitter-sweet to see a full church, as it is in reality dwindling a lot (and of course we’ll be moving soon so leaving too, not that I think we make an earth-shattering contribution. Might make that another blog post sometime).
Anyway. This hangs above HD’s computer.
4th July 2011:
A very random one today. This necklace was a gift from a good friend from London days. The edges are too sharp for it to be comfortable against the skin, but I have it hanging on a bookshelf and think it looks rather good there. It also reminds me of my friend, so makes me smile 🙂
3rd July 2011:
We were in Chester this past weekend, the reason we were there was because yesterday evening derf was being ordained a Presbyter in the Methodist Church at Chester Cathedral. It was a lovely service, and I am not ashamed to say I shed a tear or two. It was also lovely to catch up with a few friends (including Tractor Girl, it’s been over a year since we met up which is far too long). It was a ‘ridiculous to the sublime’ kind of day – we spent most of the day at Chester Zoo, before going on to the ordination, then back up the road for the long old drive back home. Well worth it though, what a privilege to be there to share in derf’s day.
2nd July 2011:
Chester is a very sweet little city, and it is easy to see the sights in a day. In the morning we walked along the canal path, where I took this – I think it just looks quintessentially idyllic English countryside. At lunchtime we did a river cruise, and in the afternoon we had a bit more of a wander and went to the Grosvenor museum, then in the evening before dinner we walked round the entire length of the old city walls. What a lovely place.
This is part of the bunch of daffodils I was given at church this morning at the end of the service for Mothering Sunday. I’ve made my peace with Mothers’ Day, I think – to be honest, it never bugged me too much personally, I had good experiences of being mothered, my mum is lovely, and I don’t feel I’ve missed out terribly by not having children (although if they come along I’ll be very happy, of course). But I was always aware of the people around who found the day difficult – those with bad experiences of their mothers, or those who had lost beloved mothers, or those who longed to be mothers but were unable, or those who had lost much-loved children – and so more often than not I have sat in church services and cringed at it all. However, at St N’s at any rate it’s usually celebrated more sensitively, and today was no exception. Hymns and readings about Mary, giving thanks for mothers in the intercessions and then moving on, and that was about it apart from being given the flowers at the end. I could cope with that. And the flowers are beautiful.
Jacqui at Miss-Guided wrote yesterday about the importance of volunteering. As I commented earlier there, today in church one of our wardens (a youthful 80-something I think) was praised for being South Lanarkshire’s Volunteer of the Year 2009 for his work caring for people with Alzheimer’s (work he’s done following his own wife’s death in 1998). I chatted to him briefly after the service and he was so enthusiastic about the work he does, he absolutely loves it and it was actually really sobering to think how little I do at half his age. I have volunteered in the past, but right now am very focused on me, me, me – getting the thesis finished, finding work, making ends meet, the usual stuff – but this has inspired me to think about what I could do. I ought to look into giving blood again, as I’ve not done that for years. And when we’re settled wherever we end up, I’ll have to take a look at what’s around the place. It’s good to look beyond yourself/myself (I’m talking to myself, really).
Apologies for blogging infrequency, our home broadband is not very well (understatement; we are currently waiting for BT to test our line and try and find out what is going on. In the meantime HD has got a pay-as-you-go dongle (what a great word that is!) so we are still able to connect, but I don’t want to use up all his credit so I am being reasonably disciplined and trying not to waste it all on scrabble. Though I might waste a little bit later ….).
Thursday evening I headed over with some other people from church to Dunblane, where our friend and former curate was being inducted (instituted? I can never remember the correct terminology. I’m pretty sure it’s not induced though!) as the new priest there. I have (and I know I’m not the only one) missed Kimberly a lot here, she was a wonderful curate, and St Mary’s are lucky to have her. I must admit to shedding a tear during the service – it was actually at the point that the church warden handed her the keys to the church. She had such a huge smile at that point it was clear that she had “come home”. What a wonderful service and wonderful occasion, and I hope and pray she will be very happy there. As if that wasn’t all wonderful enough, I can now also say that I have been in the same room as the Cope of Glory (that’s a reference that kingsfold will get, if nobody else!). My goodness, and it was quite glorious!
The end of the week has seen a couple of pre-birthday events – yes I finally reach that grand-old-age-with-a-0-on-the-end next week, and so had drinks with people from work on Friday night (shamelessly piggy-backing on another friend’s leaving do), and then with friends from church last night too. I think I feel alright about it, generally – I was really excited about the last birthday-with-a-0-on-the-end, and have loved being in my X0-ies (I don’t know why I’m not just coming out and saying the numbers, I’m sure you all know!), so I think I’m more bothered about not being in my X0-ies than I am about being *0.
Anyway – we are going to go on an adventure on the actual day, so hopefully that will soften the blow a little 🙂
We’ve had a very lovely Easter this year. Like last year we went to York, where we pretty much ate our way through the Bank Holidays. On the way we stopped at a cafe on the A66 which has llamas, where we inadvertently broke our dairy fast – the soup of the day was advertised as tomato, so we both ordered that, and when our soup arrived it turned out to be stilton and broccoli. What can you do?
As well as llamas, they also had some parrots and a couple of rabbits, who did try to do what rabbits do, but we were very amused by their ineptness at this – they got the one on top of the other bit OK, but weren’t particularly discerning about which was the business end!
Once we got to York we managed to get to the church where we got married (where they were doing a labyrinth) just in time to find them locking up, so we went to the pub instead. Whoops, perhaps not the most devotional of Good Fridays. In the evening we had a meal at our friends’ place where we were staying, and then we had a rather longer lie-in than originally planned on Saturday.
Saturday afternoon saw us shopping and visiting the Stanley Spencer exhibition at York Art Gallery (well worth a visit if you’re around) – I’d seen several of the paintings before (they are on loan from the Tate), but hadn’t taken in his landscapes before, which I really liked. In the evening we met up with the outlaws, who are holidaying in Yorkshire at the moment, and had a meal at the hotel where our wedding reception was – it was quite strange being back, it felt so familiar but it wasn’t our big day any more. After that we caught the end of the Easter Saturday vigil service at York Minster – this photo is from that.
Sunday morning meant of course Easter Sunday with all the celebrations that entailed. Which in my case meant Easter eggs for breakfast – what a civilised thing that is (my goodness it was beautiful!!). Then we met up again with HD’s parents for the Easter Sunday service at York Minster, which was really lovely – here’s a photo of Archbishop John Sentamu on the steps of the Minster after the service.
We had a few hours to recover from our weekend of eating and celebrating, before returning to St C’s for a Visions bring and share meal, with communion. We got to see lots of friends we’ve not seen for a while, and catch up with people, and eat even even more. I’m still pretty full, 2 days later!
We rounded off the day wandering round some of Via Luminosa (check out the Visions link for more details). Visions have been involved in staging a number of multi-media art installations at various places around the city centre, telling the Easter story. It is on this week as well as last week, and again is well worth a look. We weren’t able to see all of the installations – a couple of them were having technical issues, and a couple of them were in shop windows but as the shops were shut on Sunday they weren’t able to use them. But here are a few pictures from the installations we did see:
Yesterday we enjoyed a coffee with the outlaws followed by a leisurely walk along the river and a picnic with the friends we were staying with. I was really happy to see lots of signs of new life, including some very very very fluffy goslings!
We got back last night, it’s good to be home, but I’m very grateful for a lovely weekend away 🙂
I guess one way of looking forward to the coming of Christ (something I’ve already explained I’m struggling with a bit this year during the current dry patch) is to look back. This morning’s service was action-packed if nothing else, being both Carol Service, Christingle Service AND a baptism (all 3 elements together worked really well – and still managed to take less time than the usual communion service! But I digress).
Some of you know I’m not from a church-going family, so church didn’t really feature in my childhood much apart from when my school orchestra and/or choir did concerts in churches sometimes. However, my late grandmother (whom we called Nanny – she died when I was 7 or 8 ) did sometimes go to church, and occasionally we would go with her, if there was a service which might be good for kids. So, one of my very earliest church memories, I guess I must have been no older than 5 or 6, is going to the Christingle Service – I remember precisely nothing about the significance of the Christingle or anything much about the service itself, but remember really vividly walking back home with my mum and nanny and aunt and sister and my sister and I both holding our oranges and shielding the still lit candle trying to protect the flame from being blown out. I remember the orange wasn’t beautifully decorated like the ones at St Frodo’s this morning, with red ribbon and sweets as well as the candle, these ones were literally just an orange with a cross drawn on it in red marker pen and a small candle. But, I remember that even from that very early age there was just Something about church, about Christianity, which just Felt Right, and that feeling never went away, even though I never did anything about it till I went to uni at 18 and joined the CU. Seeing those Christingle oranges this morning brought that all flooding back – the fact that God was calling me, little me, all those years ago.
And then in the readings, of course we got to Luke 2. I remember a few years ago when I was still in London, I think it must have been 1998 thinking about where I was living at the time and that I was getting ready to work on a hospital ward where I’d just finished a student placement for the early Christmas Day shift, so I was bleary-eyed and running around a bit. I had GLR (now Radio London, nowhere near as good as GLR was but that’s another story) on the radio, and then (as I think still now on Radio London) Jumoke Fashola was doing the early God-slot programme. While I was getting dressed I remember her reading out Luke 2, the story of the shepherds, and I remember when she read verses 10-11 “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord”, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end and the story of Christmas never ever felt as real as it did then. This morning the same thing happened, at the same place. I’m guessing God isn’t as far away as he currently feels after all … it’s just taking looking back to realise that there is a future.