Christ Church Falkirk storms Holy Island

After weeks of storms and showers and hurricanes the morning of our parish outing to Lindisfarne dawned warm and sunny. The weather forecast said ‘blustery with showers’ but for once I’m glad to say they were wrong. And so 31 of us headed off in the bus down the coast to Holy Island.

The parish church of St Mary the Virgin welcomed us and allowed us to say mass when we arrived. I got to wear their most beautiful celtic vestments (photos to follow) and much coveting was done. We even took a photo of the rest of their gorgeous goodies in the Sacristy when nobody was looking. Some visitors joined us for communion which was nice.

Then we had the rest of the afternoon to wander about. Some went out to the castle, some to the harbour, and some pottered closer to home scoffing mead and doing some shopping. The Lindisfarne Scriptorium did some good trade, I do believe.

Back on the bus and down the coast through Bamburgh to Seahouses and the Bamburgh Castle Inn Hotel for tea. We had a lounge upstairs all to ourselves with a view of the harbour and the castle. Many fish and chips were consumed.

A great day was had by all. There were no accidents, no lost children or elderly, and toilets were found when necessary. I’d call that a result.

Girl power

Last Friday I took the funeral of a very important woman. As is often the case, I didn’t quite realise how important that person was until after they died. Jinty Kerr was secretary to the Vestry when I first came here but never came to church in the whole year I’ve been at Christ Church. The reason was that she developed cancer just before I came and although she did a splendid hand-over and kept me informed of what had happened in the past, I only met her at her own home when I regularly took her home communion. I knew that Jinty had been a police officer and had attained promotion throughout her career but I had no idea that she was responsible for so many ‘firsts’. She led the way for women in the police force breaking through the glass ceiling on many occasions. There are splendid obituaries for her here and here. Jinty was a pioneer for women in a man’s world and rarely spoke about it to me. We spoke about churchy things and about chemo things and about family things. I was there at her death when she whispered the Lord’s Prayer with me, received communion and died. There were about 300 people at her funeral which spoke volumes about how much she was loved and respected.

Today a link on a blog took me to One Hundred Women: The unseen powerful women who change the world. Each of them has a story like Jinty’s. Stories of women who make change happen, sometimes in very small ways but all in ways that make our world a better place.  If you ever think you are too small to make a difference then you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito, sayeth the Dalai Lama. Read some of these stories and you will be inspired to greatness.


A little Apocalypse at the Rectory

So we all waiting in anticipation on Saturday for the Rapture to happen and whisk us up, up and away. We had on clean underwear and shoes were polished. I didn’t have time to get a haircut but as it turned out, that didn’t matter for the Rapture didn’t happen.  Although I’m sure it would have been lovely and all that, I’m kind of glad because I have rather a lot on these days. And frankly, I’m not looking my best at the moment. This comes of giving up smoking 2 weeks ago but having since eaten my bodyweight (and more) in sweeties, chocolate and ice-cream. It has not been pretty. I keep thinking it must be out of my system by now, but no, off I go again on the rampage for a little morsal to keep my occupied. As a result, I’m increasingly worried that I fall over for I fear I’d never get back up again and would lie there like a beached whale. Heh ho. If its not one thing, its the other.

Then yesterday Scotland worried if indeed the Rapture was upon us as the wind picked up and frisked the spring blossom off the trees. Small branches flew past my window all day and I heard the wheelie bin butting itself against my car. But it was the very large and heavy clunk that took me out into the maelstrom to find the tiles hurling themselves off the roof like lemmings at a cliff-top (allegedly). These are not small and dainty red rectangular tiles, by the way. These are tiles of humungous proportions. Tiles that would fell a passer-by and send her to her Maker in the blink of an eye. Tiles that are not nailed on but sit in little clips and if one goes…  So, while we all enjoyed the Prepare Your Own Funeral evening, the rectory continued to spew its tiles into the car-park.

Today I met with 2 Roofing Contractors who were sent to make the roof safe and give estimates for the work. The first one said you can’t really make it secure – and he didn’t think any more would fall. And also mentioned, while sucking air in through his teeth, that you can’t get those tiles any more and you’d have to go to a reclaim yard and perhaps you might find them… perhaps not… and he’d hand in an estimate. The 2nd man stood well back, said it was really dangerous because more were ready to fall at any time, and we should rail off the car park and not let anyone walk below the roof. He thought of a number (a very low number, as it happens) and said he could do the job pretty quickly. No mention of rare tiles. He wrote this magical number on a business card in pencil and presented it to me as if it were indeed a beautifully typed out estimate suitable for an enquiring Insurance Company. When prompted to actually give a correct estimate,  he said the storm and power cut had blown up his computer and it might be some time.

So there we have it. My roof has two large holes in it and the experts don’t agree. And it might take weeks to get that in writing anyway. And when I asked whether rain could get in and soak me I was told no, it would be fine because it looked like there was felt. Felt?! Felt ain’t gonna keep me dry.

When I went out to inspect the damage this morning I found out that a large chunk of our oak tree had broken off too. Poor tree. I guess I should be grateful that it didn’t come in the window. Thanks be to God.

The holiday is over

It is not really a holiday, this week after Easter. For clergy it is merely a week to recover, to go to bed at a normal hour, to tidy up the detritus from so many services, and to come back down to earth. For me it was also a week to partially recover from a virus of vomiting which struck just before the Saturday Easter Vigil (and continued throughout it too!) It is still lingering just enough to remind me of its presence.

So what did I do? I read and slept and caught up on TV and slept. And ran to and fro to the bathroom, but that’s more knowledge than you needed to have. Speaking of which, I also met with the plumber again, who is now on the congregational roll for he comes to church more often than some members. I did very little, in fact. And I still haven’t found my Easter cards to send but I know they are here somewhere.

And I remembered and planned. I remembered the services in Holy Week and the comments from my little flock. I remembered which bits worked and which bits need changed next time. I remembered little flocks-of-old and Holy Weeks gone by. For each one teaches me something of the mystery of the Passion. And I planned. I planned for next year and we might do it differently. I planned (in my head but not on paper yet) that I would make lists for each service and what I need to take with me to set up. Now if someone were to write a book that had the practicalities needed before each church service, I’d buy it like a shot.

Now today it is back to work. To prepare for tomorrow’s services. To write sermons and look out props. To finish off the study tidy up. Is it too late to send Easter cards, do you think?

Holy Week : my best bits

Kelvin asks for our best bits from Holy Week. Now that I’ve had time to rest, here are mine:

  1. Realising that an ecumenical Holy Week means I don’t have to do 17 services between Palm Sunday and Easter Day like I did last year.
  2. Listening to the youngsters from St Francis Xavier speak so clearly and devoutly and present such a well-thought out power point presentation on Monday night.
  3. Sitting down in the sanctuary in the cathedral after preaching at the Chrism Mass and getting words of affirmation from the Bishop.
  4. Washing and kissing feet on Maundy Thursday with the aroma of geranium oil wafting about.
  5. Sitting in the Garden of Repose with one other person, the rest having run away.
  6. Choking at the last Station of the Cross and feeling the support around me.  And hearing that one person only came for 20 minutes on Good Friday 3 hours and stayed for the last 2 hours.
  7. Being asked by my CofS colleague to offer anointing at his service on Good Friday evening and seeing so many people come up and go in tears. Good tears.
  8. Handing over the design of the Easter Garden on Holy Saturday and having a laugh with all those who came to help, when I feared nobody would turn up. And discovering that one wee pixie had tidied up ‘behind the scenes’ in the choir vestry without being asked.
  9. Seeing the crowds on Easter Day all dressed up and filling the church with laughter and getting the response right first time. He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
  10. Hearing the choir’s He is Risen on Easter morning and then Came Mary to the Grave at communion.

The trouble with an ecumenical Holy Week…

…is that someone on Monday sings one of your hymns for Maundy Thursday.

…is that someone on Tuesday preaches on footwashing.

…is that you hear the someone on Wednesday has also chosen your hymn for Maundy Thursday.

…is that your favourite hymn is sung to an awful tune from another hymn book and spoils the whole thing for you.

…is that someone on Good Friday night is using nails which you were going to use on Good Friday afternoon.

Perhaps we should have liaised a bit more?

The journey through Holy Week

Today I’ve been remembering something I read a while ago, but unfortunately can’t remember when or where, about someone who had a premonition as he set off on a journey. He had a feeling that something was going to happen – a bad feeling. But he did go and he crashed his car, killing a cyclist who had appeared in front of him. Naturally, he was haunted by this for a long time and asked someone if perhaps he had been driving slower it might not have happened. His friend said, “Well, if things had been different, you might have been killed too. But I’m glad it wasn’t me.” But still he wonders about that feeling he had beforehand – that warning of the future.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. How many of us, if we knew how our journeys would end, would actually start out? Yet, here we are in Holy Week where Jesus does just that. He is drawn towards Jerusalem with no turning back. Even some Hosannas were not enough to ease that feeling that something terrible was going to happen.

And here we are again, entering Holy Week knowing how it is going to end. Fortunately for us, Good Friday is not the end. But we do have to walk to the Cross to get beyond it.

There is a lot happening in Falkirk this Holy Week. Some of the other churches are joining us here in Christ Church each night at 7pm (except tonight when the RCs do their thing in their church and we go to them).  I hope that many of us will come and make that journey to the Cross and beyond.  I can hear J hammering away next door making me a cross to use later in the week and it sounds like a dreadful premonition of what is to come.

Making Connections

You know how sometimes you meet someone new and you know within a few minutes that you are going to love them to bits. Well, that happened to me this morning just before Morning Prayer.  An ex-member of Christ Church had got in touch with me before Christmass to say he was enjoying the blog and the church website and that he’d love to pop in when he was next down visiting family. I replied in the affirmative and his name sounded familiar. Then I remembered that a friend had spoken of him to me years ago, and what a friend he was but she had lost touch.  I didn’t hear anything again until a few days ago when he emailed again to say he was down in Falkirk and would like to come to Morning Prayer. This time my reply did reach him (the previous one had been spammed) and he turned up on the doorstep just as I was trying to put my face on, deal with the Gas man (we have no heating in church) and answer the phone.

After an inauspicious start, we settled down to Morning Prayer and after I invited him in for coffee. He remembers the Rectory when it included what is now the hall and he had fond memories of sitting by the fire in the study. And we chatted and chatted about friends in common; about Christ Church’s history and the people; about our common love of good liturgy; about the SEC and a host of other things. And how we laughed. An immediate connection.

We also had a wee tour of the church and he told me of chalices from the Catholic Apostolic Church (long gone, I fear), and the (now absent) reredos, and a banner with Monstrance (where is it, please?), and hosts of servers, the story of the Requiem Altar and windows, and a whole history which makes a church a tale of people past and present. Wonderful! Don’t you just love it when Piskies get together?