Well what a busy few days, my very last services at Holy Trinity, with the 8am and 10am Eucharist services, a wonderful buffet lunch, fabulous food and a cake with a picture of 75029 a BR Standard clas 4MT as preserved on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. But a tremendous goodbye from so many parishioners with whom I have had the priviledge to work and serve these past three and a half years. Just about better from the bad cold, the voice not quite back yet but getting there as today I went to morning prayer for the last time, then said goodbye to the Childrens Centre Staff. So it really is the last few hours in Narnia, with many happy memories, much work completed, and so much learnt to carry forward to my new post as Vicar of Hadley and Wellington. Therefore the blog must now end as I say goodbye. Thank you for following the Blog, it has been a good time knowing how many of you have signed up to reading it. Keep watching the oneparish.org website, I may begin a new blog once I have settled into something approaching a new routine.
Three days to go until my final services on Sunday, and I am fighting a bad cold. Doing a 200 mile round trip to visit the new Vicarage and have all the rooms measured for floor coverings may not have helped, but was needed as we will have moved in by this time on a fortnight! Today is a rest up and try to be well enough for Sunday type of day, I am confident to be fit for action. Back to resting now after posting a picture from the crypt in the Cathedral in Lund, this bit of the building being over 1000 years old, and then a picture of the wonderful Station in Copenhagen, such a good roof! With one of the modern Contessa EMU units which I traveled on over The Bridge into Sweden.
After morning prayer I spent some time setting up for the Wednesday Eucharist, the sun was shining through the stained glass, a time to remember the last three and a half years learning so much about running services, running churches. Then it was the last time leading, and afterwards one of our older members said some very kind things. On my way home I called in at the House removers just to make sure all was in the Diary for the move in a fortnight, before heading right back out where members of our Deanery Chapter held a goodbye lunch for me. Tonight I am off out to visit a couple for whom I am conducting a marriage for later in the year, and that for a wednesday will be quite enough I think.
Pram Service today, and another ‘last time’. I think this service will be one of the ones I will miss the most, and so have more than a tinge of sadness on this last one for me. The relationship we build with Mums Dads, Grannies and Grandads and carers is a highlight, but the way the children feel so at home with the freedom to express themselves and be accepted is most special. For at this service the children are not sent off into their own groups, they are able to be key to all that happens, this creates a very special atmosphere, and a place where I beleive faith develops for these under fives at a crucial stage in their own growth. Thought I would show you two views today and ask the question, what do you see from your window? Last week in Sweden I awoke to two very different views, both spectacular, and both inspiring. Once posted I am off to morning prayer. the first view is from my bedroom as the dawn broke at Ahus by the seaside with the frozen Baltic. The second is a view of the Cathedral in Lund as the morning sun lit up the skyline.
It is now the last week of my Curacy at Holy Trinity, and with a weeks break from posting a blog, there is much to catch up on. Last Tuesday I caught the Airline Coach at 05:25 outside Headington Shops, meeting the Bishop of Oxford’s Chaplain on the way we had plenty of time to move through the Gatwick security and checking in for our plane to Copenhagen. Visibility was very poor on the flight, the only break in the clouds revealed far below me the Isle of Sheppey, were in the 1990′s I spent much time working in Danley Middle School whilst working for Scripture Union. After landing in Copenhagen we eventually caught a train which carried us over the Bridge (Oeresund) into Sweden, where the train at Malmo came to an abrupt halt. The overhead wires were down, and so we had to work out how the Swedish replacement bus service would work. Along with hundreds of other fed up commutors and travellers we wondered if the coach we had fought so hard to get on, was actually going our way! This is when being a trainspotter comes into its own, with the railway system of Sweden firmly implanted in my brain the stops the coach made coincided with the route I wanted to take us to Kristianstad. Which we eventually made on the train after we had gone round the broken bit! We were met at Kristianstad and taken to the conference centre on the Baltic Coast, famous for being the home of Absolut Vodka we had arrived a Ahus. My room overlooked the sea, which was frozen solid as the pictures below will show. Wednesday was the conference, and after the session led by the Bishops chaplain, I then led an interactive training session for the first time since leaving the post of Scripture Union training programme manager for England and Wales. We explored the Church of England Baptism service, and I was able to demonstrate how I have adapted it whilst in Narnia. They loved learning one of my kids songs, which readily translated into Swedish. We then examined how baptism can be seen within the context of mission, and faith development. Following a great days work we then drove over to the cathedral city of Lund. The thursday being a day of working with the Diocesan officers and the cathedral staff. I was whisked off for interviews and a photoshoot whilst the Bishops Chaplain met with another group of Diocesasn Officers. A guided tour and Mass in the Cathedral was a real highlight of the visit. All to soon it was back on the train to Denmark where I left the Bishops Chaplain to meet her husband for a few days holiday. Time for some serious trainspotting before heading back to the airport and the journey home, getting back around 11pm. A superb trip and many friends made, and I had answered my personal question: ” Was I still able to train people and inspire them to seek new ways of doing things?” apparently so! Sunday was not an easy day, my last time as Deacon in the 10am service, my last baptisms at HT, all four of them, and then singing Evensong for the last time. So many goodbyes this week, but now for two pictures of the pier at Ahus, Wonderful!
The snow certainly came down, but not enough to spoil the activities on saturday afternoon, we held a Mosaic making day in the Coach House for children to help make a replacement for the ugly boarded up window on the left hand side of the Coach House entrance. Nearly 20 turned up in spite of the weather, and we sang and danced and played Musical newspapers to begin, the parachute was also employed before the children made a beautiful Mosiac, when it is fixed in place I will post a photo. Sunday morning had me leading the 8am BCP Eucharist, and again ion spite of treacherous conditions underfoot, there were five of us! In the evening I was at my last LAZERS youth group meeting, so very nostalgic and brings to an end over thirty years of youth group leading. At least I hope it does, who knows what may be needed in Wellington and Hadley! Today will be the final preperations towards the conference I am speaking at in Sweden on Wednesday, is your passport picture the face of a convict? mine is! and tonight is the last Wood Farm Home Group meeting for my wife and I. I do hope you have all been watching the new Father Brown series on BBC 1 last week and to come this week, every weekday at 13:15, try iplayer if you are working during the day. A charming series with some great railway shots on the Gloucester and Warwickshire Railway, Very different to the Kenneth Moore version, but this Father Brown is an excellent character and at times the drama is very moving, one part sees the intrepid priest sitting with a lady trying to end her life, she asks what is there to live for, Father Brown says that she is not the only person to have lost a child, God also knows what it feels like to lose a child, and that whilst not protecting us from this loss, accompanying us on the journey, that is what God does best. But it is the characters care, concern and love that actually makes the difference, those of us lay or ordained who seek to be like Jesus, however badly we do, this is what makes the difference. So let us all go out to love and serve the Lord.