This was always going to be a busy time, even before The Arm happened.
My invitation to our local schools to follow the "Experience Easter" trail was unexpectedly popular, meaning that I'm needed in church to meet, greet, explore & explain not just for one week but for two. So far, with 5 out of 14 classes gone through, it's going fine. Interesting to notice which stations inspire the most thoughtful responses here - quite different in Ch Kings though the material, & my presentation of it, has not changed noticeably. I'll hope to blog the trail fully later - for now I'm only mentioning it as a clue to why life is a bit pressurised.
Add to that the Minister's Report for the Annual Parochial Church Meeting this coming Sunday at Church in the Valley, special services for Palm Sunday, pretty much every day of Holy Week & the Triduum (and a broken photocopier in the parish office - what stellar timing!) and a sudden run of funerals & tis unsurprising that my diary has looked a little alarming. When I got up this morning, I really wasn't certain that the different bits of the day would dovetail at all - but in the event they did, and there was so much grace in evidence throughout a long long day.
A decidedly ordinary assembly began the day. Theme: courage, but I failed completely to engage the room full of infants, whose attentions were focussed on the imminent excitements of some medieval "time travellers" who were due to arrive any moment. I left pretty certain that we hadn't connected at all, and consoling myself with the thought that I would be back next week - except that as we followed the Easter trail later in the day, a little girl snuck up to me and told me that my ramblings had in fact made a huge and important difference, that she had dared to tell someone about a heavy situation she was facing, that she no longer felt so alone and afraid.
On that basis, this morning's flop was probably the most significant assembly I've taken. Do pray for M and for all children carrying big burdens in silence...
A lovely Eucharist for the Annunciation. We prayed the Angelus together, the first time it has been used in public worship in the valley for quite a while. It's not a reflection of the dominant spirituality of the Sunday congregation, but that close-knit Wednesday group sank into it with comfortable devotion and it was just right for that time and that place.
Despite an emergency dash up to school to copy material for the Lent course (see what I mean re our copier's timing?) I even had the opportunity to ask someone to stand for election to the PCC - and he agreed. Splendid! He will be a real asset :)
Lent Course - the caring church. Startlingly difficult to persuade the group to recognise the examples of Christian service in their midst, even with some real saints of the church there among us. Even the towering figures, the William Booths & Mother Theresas, took a while to surface so that I'm left with the nagging though that we're still a long way from really making connections between faith and life. Even after dredging up examples of Christians who have made difference, it was hard to move on to discover what this might tell us of the fundamentals of our faith. Ah well - still a good conversation and who knows what may have surfaced once I'd departed for a funeral, taking with me, I suspect, the worry that they might not come up with the "right" answers.
Funeral at the crem for B, a man in his 90s whom I had never known, and whose executor was his solicitor. Did your heart sink like mine when you read that? Usually such funerals are bleak occasions when it can be hard to thank God for a life of whose course you know nothing. Not so B's service. His appointment o the solicitor reflected his lifelong determination not to burden those who loved him, and in fact B had an affectionate niece and a loyal friend who shared memories with me for the address, and suggested just the right readings for this quietly contented man. There were just a handful of us there in the chapel, and as we listened to Ecclesiastes "there is a time for every purpose..." I think we all knew we were on holy ground.
I rarely post funeral addresses, as I feel that they are too personal, not really mine to share, but I'm going to make an exception for B., because I learned so much in that half hour about the value of life, and really felt the words I spoke.
Experience Easter with another class, then book group looking (along with most of the world) at The Shack. We are divided: I hate the "style" but love some touches of the content and others were more enthusiastic. I have at least one parishioner who needs the reminders the book offers that God is not a vengeful ogre - but I fear she would be put off by the transatlantic context and not hear the truth through the background noise.
The real grace here, though, was the grace of sharing with friends in ministry. We trained together and over delicious scones that J had made we told our stories, mourned, grumped and celebrated ogether - and it was very good.
Thanks be to God for Wednesday - now to engage with Thursday's busyness, praying to notice God's presence along the way.