There aren't any of Sunday - in the evening we (The Four Churches) had our last (ever) Harvest Thanksgiving in Ulsterville Presbyterian Church. Special music was provided by Fane Street Primary School Choir and it was lovely to see them in that context. Usually I'm the one at the front in School Assembly. It is sad to see what was once a thriving church work towards amalgamation with its neighbour in January 2010. The son of the first minister of the church preached the semon!
Saturday was totally different. Christmas was celebrated at the Rectory! Yes, Christmas! This was part of the Confirmation Class programme when we looked at the life of Jesus and together celebrated his birth. In addition to the traditional Christmas items there were reminders of his life, death and resurrection. Learning through play and activity is a great way to help remember that which is important. The pizza tea that we shared simply added to the fun of being together.
The contrast between that and Saturday Morning is marked. The Church of the Epiphany (the adjacent parish) were celebrating harvest with a flower festival so over a hundred photographs are now in my collection from that. One of the most memorable of the displays was a representation of the separation of light and darkness during creation.
The Confirmation Class met not only on Saturday afternoon and evening but also on Friday Evening. No photographs record that gathering as we took time to consider human beings and how we were created in God's image but also how that image was marred by sin. We are learning so much together and the prayers that the young people write at the end of each session show a deep understanding and personal response to the topic.
It is always good to prepare for a busy time by having a day of rest - so Thursday was, as usual, the day off. In spite of the mist and dullness Eliot and I set off for Murlough. Sadly, the camera battery was almost flat so the photographic record of a wonderful walk is rather thin. The beach was deserted and there was a great stillness with the Mournes shrouded in low cloud. A totally restful time followed by corned beef hash in Newcastle. The "rest" continued in the afternoon as I watched "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" from which we planned to show the Stone Table scene at Confirmation Class. Going to the ballet (Cyrano) completed the perfect day.
So what do clergy (and their dogs) do? Probably much the same as everyone else. We work hard, play hard and get tired! Visiting, sermon preparation, leaflet production and general household things were also part of those days too. So now, with Eliot wondering if his morning walk is going to happen, I'd better finish off and find his lead.