while Synod debated, in one small corner of the Anglican Communion I've had a very busy weekend...
Headlines included - a 50th Birthday Celebration for one of the schools that serves this community - and which does wonderful things to open vistas to children whose aspirations might otherwise be rather limited
- watching Longsuffering Clockmaker and an unsupsecting friend (who had visited us to attend a local Canal Festival, of which he saw little thanks to determined rain) construct an elephant (yes...this sort of thing happens in vicarages all the time - didn't you know?)
- my first wedding at Church in the Valley - for a delightful couple who seem really tuned in to what was happening beyond the immediate festivities...Bride's mum, bride AND vicar were all distinctly teary as the bride walked down the aisle and though I did have to ask the congregation twice whether "They the family and friends of N & M would support them in their marriage now and in the years to come", once they'd got the idea that this was a participative event and not a spectator sport they then engaged with it with gusto. Amazingly, there was sunshine too!
- having the privilege of introducing the most wonderful concert at Church on the Hill...Sarah Connolly just happens to be one of my parishioners and with huge generosity she gave her time, and persuaded a group of orchestral musicians to join her in performing a programme of Bach and Handel for the benefit of the church roof. An amazing team of volunteers from the village ensured that we were plied with fantastic refreshments, welcomed into a beautifully decorated and tranformed church and that the whole evening ran completely smoothly, despite the aforementioned rain (which meant that instead of little black dresses and party shoes, many sensible souls opted for waxed jackets and gum boots). As for the performance - to be given the gift of a truly world class artist(one critic in the national press described Sarah as someone he would cross continents to hear - and I'd say he's absolutely right) singing glorious music in one of "my own" churches...to be seated only a few feet away from her ... to watch the music soaking into the walls of the church, and making it more beautiful than ever...was a once in a lifetime experience for which I am deeply thankful.
- lest I get above myself, the following day saw me literally pilloried...and receiving a baptism of wet sponges as part of Church in the Valley's Summer Fete There are some disturbingly good shots among my parishioners (my skirt is actually pale blue...I was that wet) though it was very sweet the way so many of the congregation went through a "Oh, I couldn't possibly...you poor thing" routine before they could be persuaded to take aim. The weather didn't do us any favours, so we moved most of the stalls into the church building, with some in the hall, and others in the church itself...Very medieval all round! The "home team" fielded all sorts of wonderfully dedicated people, who set to immediately after worship and created a variety of stalls which really did have something for everyone.
The circus skills performer was a huge success, and the building was filled with a happy buzz all afternoon...We even had some fugitive seamstresses, producing costumes for a medieval fayre which is happening in a couple of months, beavering away in the children's corner! I'd done a rushed job on some leaflets reminding the community of those things that we can offer as a church, beyond Sunday worship - and was delighted to be able to write
"The church is open each day as a place of quiet and prayer..."
It certainly wasn't quiet and prayerful on Sunday afternoon but it felt well and truly open, and a great crowd of people came through the doors. Some even stayed for the Songs of Praise service that concluded the day - and I staggered home exhausted but so very proud of both my church families, with their differing gifts, but their common committment to making community.
- Finally Monday saw an unexpectedly big funeral to complete the range of experiences...My words seemed to connect with those who needed to hear them, and I was left wondering yet again at the variety and the privilege of this calling and so thankful for the people whom God puts in my way as I engage with it.