Friday, 24 December 2010

Twas Christmas eve...

The preparations are nearly there, just a few final tweaks and we should be ready to ease from December the 24th to December the 25th.

It has been interesting to reflect upon thinking about two churches and three congregations at this time. It can be all to easy to focus upon the church building that I see outside the windows every day, the one that is only 100 yards away.

The church that is nearly 30 miles away by road and sea has also been preparing, putting up trees, decorating the pew-ends, adjusting the (non-eucharistic) service for Christmas morning. I will be with them at St Paul's on Boxing/St Stephen's Day, once the Calmac ferries start up again after the Christmas break.

The church community that is 25 miles away by road are doing their own individual thing - next year will be a time of extra events and developed services, pastoral visiting and future planning. The snow had largely cut them off for quite a while. St Martin's will be in my prayers this Christmas.

But the church building next door? Servers (all four of them for midnight) are rehearsed, thurible technique brushed up, lighting sequence and subtleties thought about, gospel acclamations dug out and practised, hot beverage production offered and accepted. Decorations, the real tree, the crib, the stands - all have been beautifully arranged, and preserved in the deep freeze that is Holy Trinity. The frontals have been changed (which may change itself next year).

It's nearly ready to go.

Now something is still to be done. What is it again? I'm sure there is something...

Oh yes - a sermon might be appropriate!

Friday, 10 December 2010

We will now sing hymn number 366 in Ancient and Modern Revised Standard 1983

The new steel beams have been fitted into Holy Trinity's tower, after a wait of over a year! The new structures, with galvanised RSJs, bolted doubler plates on flanges and shear webs and cemented in support pads in the walls, should hold the weight of the bell frame, bells, pigeons and occasional climbing rector (or others!).

This should be the first stage of the project that will restore the tower's gutters, remove the end of the wood rot, replace the linings, frames etc. and generally make the space back into one that we can actually use.

Given the arctic conditions we have had this week, it is a fantastic milestone for the fabric project. Well done to all!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

A prayer for deer-whistling II - just when you thought it was safe to drive to Bute...

I have lost the deer whistle from one of our cars. I am pretty sure it came off when I hit a (very suicidally stupid) pheasant the other day. Oh well, it didn't say 'Pheasant Whistle' on the packet...

While shepherds washed their socks by night...

Monday, 6 December 2010

...a warm welcome?

A snowy day in Cowal and Bute - the photograph was taken the Sunday before last (thanks Liz!) but nicely sums up the weather that has (finally) come to bite us in our little maritime mini-climate.
The children made it to school - just - and I dodged the speeding/skidding 4x4s that were being driven as if it were a dry summer's day. There is something about being wrapped in a couple of tons of car that makes people feel nice and safe. Nice and slowly, gentle braking and I got home. The drive was impossible - the car wouldn't even park at the foot of the hill - it just slid down with handbrake on from stationary.
A heavy afternoon clearing and treating it all, then a run for more salt for the morning, to keep it clear after the promised -9 degrees overnight. Plans are in disarray: a trip to Edinburgh later this week cancelled, time in Rothesay over the next two days in jeopardy, meetings having to be shifted and shuffled about.
But under all the snow, the church is still there - just as the pisky pubsign is still there. Congregation friends are looking out for each other, contact is being maintained with the frail ones, those short of food being supplied. Worship may be disrupted, but the body of Christ is still functioning well, in many tiny acts of kindness and concern.