Quiet Day

Yesterday we had the first of our Lent Groups on ‘Calling’. That’s calling as in vocation, not as in yodelling or yelling. Not a great number unlike past years but not sure why. So a bit disappointing.

Then four people stayed on for our Quiet Afternoon on Lent and Transitions. Again, I wondered why more people didn’t take part. Is it that Saturdays are not good for folk? Is an afternoon too much time to give up? Do people not take on Lenten disciplines any more? Have I failed in explaining it?  You’ll note what I thought about in the silence!

To be honest, it is disheartening when you spend a lot of time in preparation and planning and few folk turn up. But then you have to wonder if you are planning the wrong sort of event. And of course, even if one person turns up then you have done your best for them. But… Maybe its because I’m feeling a bit under the weather that these things are bothering me more.

And in case you were planning on coming to the Alternative Service tonight, don’t bother. It is cancelled!

Another thing they didn’t teach us at Tisec…

How much training do you think clergy get on buildings, organs, property, Health and Safety? Yes, you’re quite right. Nada. Nothing. Zilch.

So this last year has been a steep learning curve for this little flock-carer who only really wanted to love people and now has to wrestle with much less exciting things in the parish. First there was Health and Safety – and yes, I know we haven’t yet had that extra fire drill.  (And on that note, how awful do those big alarm bells look on our walls where lovely icons should hang?)

Fortunately, I have an excellent Property Committee who take care of all the day to day building crises. Before I came the exterior of St Mark’s was cleaned and made watertight. The interior ceiling has just been replastered and repaired leaving a rather fetching patchy effect. (Mind you, the rest of the paint is peeling and about to drop and decapitate some unfortunate wee lamb.) So we had thought that we might have an appeal at St Markstide for redecoration. That was until the boundary wall started to cave in and threaten the lives of innocent passers-by. Then the handrail at the few steps from the side gate started to rot and wobble and the steps are unsafe so the vast amount of complaints have meant that we have had to address this, putting the redecoration further down the list.

Then last week the organ decided not to play some notes so poor Andrew had to leap like a gazelle over to the (out of tune) piano after the Gloria. The organ tuners came in this week and did what they could but sadly yesterday it was worse. Piano again made an appearance – not just out of tune but some notes not playing either. (Do you think this counts are persecution?)

So now we need to find an organ of sorts to hire over Lent. We need to see how much money we have and prioritise it. Aagghh, I hate property issues!

Silent Auction

St Mark’s Portobello held its first Silent Auction for many a year yesterday and it was a wash-out. Few people turned up despite posters round Portie and much publicity in church. As a result there were many bargains to be had which was quite soul destroying really. Great items went for a £1 and many, many didn’t go at all. One old lady had donated a lot of stuff because she is down-sizing and came along to see how much it made for St Mark’s. Pennies.  Okay, not everything was what I might call a ‘treasure’ but one person’s meat is another person’s poison, as they say.

So why did it fail? Was the timing wrong in that the schools broke up on Friday and some folk are on holiday? Do people not like Silent Auctions?

The people I felt most sorry for were the few volunteers who put their heart and soul into getting it ready. There was a lot of preparation and moving of furniture and I could see they were disappointed when so few came through the door.

But do not be disheartened little flock. Your reward will be in heaven!

Edinburgh Servers make noises in the nave

Last night some Edinburgh altar servers got together for a Quiz Night at St Mark’s Portobello. All servers were invited and a good crowd arrived to take part. (If you weren’t invited speak to your priest or Head Server because they didn’t let you know!)

Now we all know that altar servers are the epitome of decency and decorum when they are in the Sanctuary. Swishing about in cassocks or albs, hands pressed together, bobbing at the Blessed Sacrament, adept at candle control, and always with BLACK shoes. But let me tell you, when you let them out of the Sanctuary they really let their hair down. What a rowdy lot!

We had to split up churches because some didn’t have enough for a team of four – and Old St Paul’s had enough to take over the church. But it was a good way of getting to know one another.

Questions (compiled by me) covered Altar Serving, Saints in Art, Churchy things, Who’s Who in the SEC, The Diocese and an extra round on Edinburgh City. (If you want to do something with your church you are welcome to the questions – just email me or comment below.)

A great night and barely a black shoe to be seen.

And the crowds sang Hosanna!

Palm Sunday at St Mark’s Portobello left me giddy with emotional exhaustion and wanting just to blog ‘I believe’.

The children were taught how to sign ‘Jesus died for me’ and then gathered up their musical instruments to bang or toot or ring or shout as we processed to Ride on Ride on in Majesty and All Glory Laud and Honour. (Yes last year I learned that one processional hymn was not enough.)

The dramatic Passion narrative was read by Eric, young Andrew and Jenny and they made a wonderful job of it too. I know I was not alone in being really moved by it.  The Passiontide hymns were some of my favourites and each one a sermon in themselves.

And finally, can I just tell you, dear people in Blogland, we had over 90 people in St Mark’s yesterday. And that warmed my heart too.

theology of wiggly waggly worms

Family service today and we tried a new hymn – A wiggly waggly worm. It’s been a while since I saw so many people smiling in church but the grown ups loved it. I decided not to preach on the gospel of the day. Well, if I was struggling to make sense of it I don’t imagine the children would be any clearer. So we did the Ascension instead. Of course children cope with that much better than we adults.

Then it was a mad dash to North Berwick to a surprise party for a certain priest who was celebrating 50 years of priesting. It was great to see so many familiar faces and as ever there was a great spread. I think Fr A was delighted to see us all. So much so, that his teeth almost fell out!

Open week at church coming up, so if you are in the Portobello area why not pop in to see the artifacts. Gorgeous vestments, wonderful silver, interesting graveyard plans and a Fair Trade stall. What more could you ask?

He is risen indeed!

Wow! What an Easter! What a host of Alleluias!

It all began on the beach at 7am when some of us joined a group from St Philip’s to sing round the new fire. My wise virgins had brought their lamps and we took the light back to St Mark’s… very carefully.

We had bacon rolls, nearly set fire to the kitchen, and then inserted the 5 wounds into the Paschal candle and said a wee prayer as we were joined by the 8.30am gang.

In between services I hid some easter eggs round the church which was hotting up nicely and there was some concern that they may melt by the time the children came to hunt for them.

By 10.30am the church was full of the usual folk, some visitors, some once-a-year folk, Sheila and Ernie Cox (ex-flock) and a host of children. We sang the Exsultet together at the Paschal candle and blessed the Easter Garden.
Easter garden

We sang joyfully our new mass setting (Raemoir) and managed to do a pretty good job of it, despite our fears. And having the church so full added energy and joy to the Easter hymns.

At the end the children came up to show us their decorated eggs and I donned my bunny ears and hopped around the sanctuary. I fear I may have looked more like a demented kangaroo than the Easter bunny but it’s the thought that counts.

Then we all enjoyed a Bucks Fizz and simnel cake.

Now that’s what I call a celebration. He is risen indeed!

Easter altar

Good Friday

It is over, complete, accomplished.

We have walked the Stations of the Cross and sung the Passiontide hymns.

We have listened to the Seven Last Words and contemplated what they mean for us.

We have seen the nail driven in to the Cross.

We have eaten Hot Cross Buns together.

And tonight we have said Compline around the cross of candles as we held our cross of nails.

Draped Cross