Sunday, 31 July 2011

Starter for ten...

We had the first St Paul's Rothesay quiz night yesterday, in the church hall round the corner from the church. I'm not sure that the vestry was convinced that it was a particularly good idea, but they unreservedly worked like Trojans (who I assume work hard) to cater and layout and support the event.

It went well.

The hall was packed out - the single window in the hall that hasn't been painted shut was open, and paper plates pressed into service as fans. The (newly-installed) stairlift in the hall was much admired but not used, even as few people teetered past it with their sticks and assistants in tow. The food was devoured, carry-outs of varying degrees of alcoholical content consumed, much buzz.

And the questions were posed, and answered, with varying degrees of hilarity, objection, studious engagement and so forth. I was the Bamber Gascoigne for the evening, which after nearly three hours of shouting down a microphone, presented challenges for a non-husky Eartha-Kitt-esque sermon delivery in the morning.

And was it all worth it? I guess some money was raised for church funds - a raffle and the modest entry-fee. But more importantly, we met with our community in our little hall, doing something that was enjoyable, non-serious, but definitely, most definitely a church event. One could almost stretch the point towards the sharing of fellowship and food, freely given, with the morning's pericope of the feeding of the five thousand.

There are many, many forms of evangelism. I believe last night was just another form.

(and a blessing of a civil marriage has appeared from the midst of the questions, answers, buzz and laughter...)

Friday, 22 July 2011

Offices? Occasionally...

I try and avoid blogging too much about specific ministry - all too personal and real - but this week had two wonderfully contrasting activities. The jargon 'occasional offices' doesn't do justice to baptisms, weddings or (as in this case) funerals. And as a clerge in England, where you do loads of funerals, mainly for people you've never met, I would try and not go on about them. Get a few C of E vicars together and they start swapping funeral stories...

But up here, in the SEC (my bit anyway) it's different.

So this week, with two funerals, is unusual for me now. But the contrasts are worth reflecting upon.

Both services for people I've known, both died from cancer, both a little on the young-ish side.

Funeral 1: Down south. A colleague and friend from a few years ago, with shared experience of ship designing. I last saw him maybe seven or eight years ago. The comedy moment! The hearse lost a tyre on the way to the crem, which (from what the widow said) then went on fire! (the tyre, not the crem) Moving on swiftly. Standing room only in the crem for the 30 minute slot (20 minute service) - standard timings for my curacy. A busy time at the crem, they said - 11 services in the place that day. The deceased lived about 15 minutes from the crem, the reception was a similar distance away (in his lodge). I used a Scottish liturgy (give or take) and we sang hymns and listened to poems and Enya.

Funeral 2: Up here. A member of the small, now dormant, dependent congregation. I last saw her two weeks before, just before I went on holiday, a week before she died. Family only - four adults and 2 children aged 6 and 8. Changed most of the words in my little book to ones that are easier to understand (and not just for the kids!). Also a busy time at the crem, they said - a funeral every day that week! The journey was about 90 minutes each way: up the 'Rest-and-be-Thankful' and down Loch Lomondside from Dunoon to the crem. I went in the hearse and had a good chat there and back with the undertakers. The hearse did not go on fire. No idea how long the crem slot was - all day, I suppose - but we were in and out in 15 minutes. No music at all - just as the family wanted it.

And overall - the same sense of loss, of hope, of saying goodbye as electrically-operated curtains whirred closed. The sense (for me) of knowing the faces that were lying still in the coffins, and wondering if the gospel had been adequately preached.

And now - the second wedding of the week tomorrow. I wonder what will happen there...

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Crumbs, it's late and busy...

Where have the last few weeks gone?
Some holiday, some busy time.
Back to an incredibly busy time indeed - I thought the SEC didn't have so many funerals and weddings as we did south of the border.
But this week is the exception.
An incredibly rich week, a week with connections and contacts with many lives.
A week with God?