Adieu, adieu, adieu to you and you and you

My last day at St Mark’s on Sunday was a most joyous occasion, in amidst the sobbing and sniffling and lack of saliva. (Where the heck did it go? but you’ll be glad to know it has safely returned.)  The mistake was choosing some of my favourite (and schmaltzy) hymns and music so if I wasn’t in danger of becoming too emotional with all the rest they certainly did me in. Farewell to Stromness (aka Portobello) almost finished me and that was the organ prelude. The choir did me proud with a couple of Bernadette Farrell numbers which I really just wanted to stop and listen to.

Placing the Body of Christ into familiar hands made me realise that I won’t see those familiar palms again for a while, if ever. And I know them all. Each wrinkles, calloused, manicured and arthritic hand is special to me.

We used a special bit of liturgy where I handed back some of the gifts which were given to me at my Institution and that worked really well. For some reason it was handing back the big bunch of church keys which set me off again!  Knowing that I can’t let myself into that church again was quite a thought. (Then of course I poodled off home leaving my picture behind and had to get someone to go and get it for me!)

I didn’t read the card from the children until I got home and that was indeed good advice for it was another weepy. They had all written individual messages for me and what tearjerkers they were.

So farewell to St Mark’s. Thank you for sharing the journey with me and thank you for putting up with all my silliness. I will miss you. And thank you for the generous gifts. You share a space in my heart forever.

Abbotsford and beyond

My second last day at St Mark’s and we had our parish outing. (Yes, that could have been planned better ;-))

First stop was Abbotsford, house of Sir Walter Scott and no sooner were we off the bus and our charming guide hussled us inside and began the most excited tour I’ve ever had. So good was he, that other visitors began to join our group just to hear the tales of Scotland told most enthusiastically. We began in Scott’s library. I still reckon I’ve got more books – just not in such pretty bookcases. Scott was an avid historian and collector of objets. I too am known to collect the odd bit of religious tat but my collection paled into insignificance compared to Mary Queen of Scots’ crucifix and painting of her head after execution. Every home should have one. Rather too much weaponry though for my taste, although bizarrely there was a nice Orthodox crucifix tucked in beside them which looks very similar to one we have at St M’s.

As it was the open day there was a Craft tent and a display of archery. We left the boys to watch the bows and arrows and we did some serious browsing.  (Purple and pink lacy scarf, if you must know.) After lunch it was back on the bus and on to Melrose and Holy Trinity where Fr Maurice did us a nice Mass.  Strange stained glass window above the altar with the Diocese of Edinburgh coat of arms along with the Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway’s.  Turns out they moved from one diocese to the other. Not entirely sure how…  Then we were treated to Borders hospitality in a most wonderful church hall (tea and rock buns) before meandering off round Melrose to look at the shops.

The Sale notice in Cobblers’ window saw us hotfooting it there but unfortunately the Radley bags were not included. Pity. But I did find a wee shop with Emma Bridgewater china with 25% off so a mug had to be bought.  Then off to the George & Abbotsford Hotel for high tea which we didn’t really do justice to, having eaten all day long.  Back on the bus and a lovely drive home with the sun setting behind the wind farm. How can anyone not love these beautiful creatures?

Now I have some serious work to do to prepare for tomorrow…

Abbotsford House

Leaving (part one)

Leaving is never easy. Leaving a place where you have been really happy is not easy at all. For the past few weeks I’ve been going round all the housebound people to say goodbye and there have been tears and good memories. Last night we had a leaving party at St Mark’s.

Paul picked me up (so that I could have a wee drinkie) and when we arrived there was Caroline at the door with a glass of something white and chilled telling me that she had been appointed to look after me. Then as I moved into the church the sound of clapping rather took me aback and in fact it was a few moments before I recognised all these people. Why did I not recognise my own little flock? Because most of them were wearing purple wigs! Or purple clothes. Or purple dyed hair. Or purple make-up. What joy!

Bridget and Lawrence treated us to some fiddle music, and later I think I remember some Glee numbers. The girls did a pom-pom (aka discarded wigs) dance routine for me. The wine flowed, the buffet fed us, and we blethered and blethered. Nicola gave the most amazing speech and tried to convince me that when she had looked up ‘people who love purple’ in Google it had told her they were ‘people who liked to be in control and the centre of attention’. (I think she made that bit up.) And I was presented with a Peter Howson print of the Last Supper which I love. (Judging by some of the faces, it was not to everyone’s taste!)

It was such a fun night and I will miss this little flock so much. Two more Sundays to go before I make my curtain call…

All Age Worship

Today the three young people from St Mark’s who went to Glen10 this year took our All Age Service and it was absolutely amazing. I know they were nervous beforehand but they spoke clearly and beautifully.

The Confession had us watching bubbles floating around the church and as ‘our’ one popped we had to imagine all our sins taken away. We said a new Creed together. They re-enacted the gospel story and had us all up raving (some more than others, it has to be said). In fact, I’m not sure that we raved at all, but a bit of bopping went on. Then at the Offertory we all put a little red heart into the basket to symbolise our own offering.

I got to do the Eucharistic Prayer but they joined me behind the altar and did the same hand movements as me, and then they distributed the Body and Blood of Christ. At the end we used +Mark’s favourite celtic blessing (Deep Peace) and sang Shine Jesus Shine with a bit more bopping going on.

They did so well and I was really proud of them. In fact, I reckon young people should do all our Family/All Age Services from now on…

(The Assumption of) the Blessed Virgin Mary

In homage to the BVM we used the new inclusive language 1982 liturgy yesterday at St Mark’s. Everyone agreed that it was not inclusive enough, but we’ll keep it going until such times as it becomes truly inclusive and we find alternative words for Father, Lord etc.

I was bemoaning the fact that I haven’t found any good modern hymns for the BVM. (And please don’t suggest Mary, blessed teenage Mother or whatever its called – it just doesn’t cut the mustard).  Does anyone know of any good stuff out there?  Mind you, Andrew got a standing ovation for Dubois’ Toccata in G major at the end. It was gloriously frothy.

And if you haven’t already seen this on Kelvin’s blog, then you really should. It was a joy to have so many of the Glen10 leaders (part of our Provincial Youth Network) in the front row yesterday doing wonders for our age profile. I could just see them giving their all with Hail Holy Queen.

Moving on

Today I announced that I shall be leaving St Mark’s in about 3 months to go to Christ Church, Falkirk (subject to Disclosure, of course). La Holy Spirit has been nudging me gently in that direction for a wee while now and you don’t mess with her. There were tears and joy (in Falkirk, I’m told, as they heard the news too).

We have achieved a lot here in Portobello these last 41/2 years. We’ve grown in numbers and more importantly in spirituality together. And, as our visitor this morning (who found us via the internet, btw) said: ‘what a friendly church!’

So my prayers now are for the next priest who comes here to continue loving this adorable wee flock. Will you say one too, please?

Vestry Day

The Vestry Away Day passed with some success, I think. The motley crew gathered in Morningside in a rather lovely meeting room with the gorgeous Mother M doing the facilitating. She was pleasantly gob-smacked at the age of our Vestry. That is, the youth of our Vestry. Of course if the three absentees had been there that might have changed things for their combined age must be about 200!

We discussed our attitudes to change; bleach (you had to be there but think OCD and you’ll know who I’m talking about); surprises and challenges; and other stuff. Then we stopped for a rather super lunch brought by the lovely Joyce, outside caterer extraordinaire. Then in the afternoon the 5 year Plan was cast asunder in favour of some tasks to undertake over the next two years. You’ll be hearing about them in the near future when we have met to decide the best way of doing just that.

There were no tears, no tantrums, no falling outs, no huffs but there was a huge amount of laughter – often at my expense. But that’s fine. They know me too well!

The Holy Mysteries sent us off into the sunshine with much to ponder, some good memories and a job well done.

Pentecost parties

The Feast of Pentecost was celebrated in style at St Mark’s yesterday. It is our tradition for everyone to bring a birthday gift to the church so the piles of toilet rolls, baby wipes, brasso etc all piled up in front of the altar. We also had a fire drill – when else would you have one and all piled out to stand beneath the trees in the sunshine surrounded by red flames hanging from the trees as the marathon ran past us on the Prom at the end of the road. Then a wonderful birthday cake and celebration party. And as if that wasn’t enough, the choir had their first lunch at Guilliano’s at the Shore. A great day.

Confirmation and 1st Communion

Oh happy day! A patronal Festival, a family service with full house, and then a visit from the Bishop for four young people to be admitted to their first communions and three confirmations and not an empty seat to be had. It was all go yesterday. You couldn’t fit more into a day, I reckon. Congratulations to all of my little flock – you were all stars.