Monday, December 05, 2005

250 candles, and then some

I think (hope) that yesterday was the busiest day of the whole Advent/
Christmas period…
While trying to avoid the pernicious clergy disease of “fullest diary syndrome”, I want to write it all down, if only to remind me to Just say No to a few things next year.
The day began, mercifully, with the 8.00 Eucharist. I LOVE this service…congregation usually numbers 35/40, but they neither expect nor get the full St Mary’s panoply of candles, servers and splendour…It’s a good service to actually pray at.
10.00 Eucharist featured that rare thing, a sermon (on Mk 1) that I actually enjoyed writing. Strangely, though I loved preaching when I was a Reader, sermon prep has become a huge ordeal since ordination,- maybe because I’m just too busy to do the reading and reflecting I would like, so the whole process always feels skimpy and inadequate. Yesterday, though, there seemed to be lots worth saying, and people seemed to have got something from it: I’d love to think I’d turned a corner, but experience suggests that caution is indicated.
I was also privileged to bless a 3 month old baby, visiting church for the first time while staying with her grandparents…which was a lovely reminder that our rather elderly congregation isn't the whole story.
After the Eucharist, we put in a brief appearance at a drinks party in the parish, then I ducked out of observing a wedding (still feel very wobbly about these, and would definitely not be confident about the paperwork if I suddenly found myself responsible for the whole shebang from A to Z...but yesterday didn’t feel like the right day to learn more). Instead I came home to finish building the Human Christingle and tweak the fine details of the Advent Prayer Trail. Just finished in time to drive up to church for Christingle itself. Fortunately, despite the 11th hour nature of my craft work, I did arrive at the right church,- as did about 250 assorted children and parents. Total mayhem. Not a clue what anyone got out of it, though it did work when we unwound the red band from around the noble LoudBoy’s waist (he says that I'm to pay for the therapy he'll undoubtedly need in years to come, and it does seem only fair really), to reveal “God’s love” repeated regularly right along its 12 foot length . When the children came up to collect their oranges, I was pleased at just how many I knew…spending time in school is not only fun, but possibly even the Right Thing to Do. All the families departed armed with details of other child friendly events over Christmas and full details of OpenHouse too…watch this space. Oh,-.and I got an invitation to visit the Playgroup, which used to be a Church group but had become firmly (and at one point quite stridently) secular latterly…so this felt like a bit of a coup, even if they were only inviting me for the sake of the oranges!

After this, the Youth Leader and I set up as many stations as we could for the Advent prayer trail, “Into the Light”. I wish we could use the space better, but pews are pews are pews…so we have to work round them, which makes for a rather tortuous route, which is all too easy to confuse. This time round, the trail is only “open” in the early evening, when it will be dark; this means that I can mark the route with tea lights,- so I’ll have to turn up each evening to light them, but that’s no bad thing.
Lead Evensong, then hurtled round lighting aforesaid tea lights, sorting out CDs etc, before the first tranche of Koinonia* members appeared. When this group pioneered the Lenten trail back in the spring, there was a huge gulf between those who whizzed round at top speed and those who really engaged with the process. This time, to my delight, they all took their time, and the whole atmosphere was pretty special. Due to a complicated and total communications breakdown, DarlingDaughter had blown what felt like the whole term’s budget on some hugely superior Glowsticks (this was the basis for a spectacular mother/daughter row on Saturday), but watching the kids react to them (they were invited to take a glowstick away as a sign of Christ’ light shining in them) I have to say it was worth it!
Koinonia finished the trail at around 10.00, at which point home and supper looked like the wisest possible option.
And that’s it.
No more Christingle for another year.
And the trail can run itself, give or take lighting the candles…though I have a horrible feeling that nobody from the adult congregation will be able to tear themselves away from their Christmas rush in order to reflect on getting ready for God. After all, I’m not at all sure I would have managed to fit it in myself!
*Koinonia is the senior Youth Group,- and any attempts to question the street cred of the name result in such cries of outrage that I suspect Koinonia will endure as long as the group does.


1 i z said...

Risk Assessment (based on photo):

Use of candles: fire hazard
Stability: used oranges, sort of round and likely to roll.
Heat proof surface: foil used on table (excellent!), but oranges piled close to edge of table...
Decorated spears used to minimise rolling of oranges, but in turn hundreds of innocent Jelly Babies had to be slain.


Honestly it's a wonder more of you clergy don't burn your churches down at this time of year ;-)

Kathryn said...

We do try, honestly we do...If you onlyknew how hard I'd tried to bribe those children ;-(

Lorna said...

our pastor's childhood church did burn down, and she and her sister might have left candles burning. ermmm

Kathryn I do love your sight. You work so hard (and often at the 11th hour)and it pays off because Christ is so visible in what you do.

My prayer is that you too can get some time to prepare for advent and that sermon writing would be easier again because you have intentional time with him. But I rejoice that this time the preaching was a blessing to prepare as well as a delight to give and listen to :)

(Hope this doesn't sound critical.)

Lorna said...

course a fire would deal with those pews which DO get in the way!

who said that?