It was my first time inside Saint Mary Magdalene today. Indeed, until I'd "Googled" it I wasn't at all sure of the location. What a beautiful place.
The service of Morning Prayer was in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit and then, before lunch, we were given a tour of the main church. Like so many other places it is deceptive from the outside.
Sitting along Donegall Pass it isn't terribly obvious and certainly doesn't look as big as it is. That's true of Saint Nicholas' too. The windows are beautiful - a very old stained glass (apart from the Boys' Brigade one) and have great detail. Terry, the rector there (and in Saint Aiden's) welcomed members of the Rural Deanery to their Thursday lunch club. A short service followed by a fantastic meal. Today it was mince pie (savoury) with tasty potatoes and carrots/parsnips followed by home made ice cream and fresh fruit salad.
Fellowship was good, the meal excellent and altogether a very enjoyable Rural Deanery gathering. At the service Terry preached from the story of the calming of the storm on Galilee illustrating it with a very scary incident from his own youth out in a boat off the Antrim coast when they were rescued by the lifeboat!
In the afternoon the wonderful engineer who looks after our photocopier at Saint Nicholas' came to replace the yellow drum and some rollers. Once again the machine is now working perfectly and leaflets for Saint Bartholomew's retreat are ready.
Friday - Saturday some members of their parish will be at Drumalis in Larne where I'm joining them. It will be good to have 24 hours on retreat ... head space before the very busiest fortnight of the year begins! Days for reflection and prayer should be written in to every month ... but sometimes we just don't do it!
All day the sun has been shining and, at the office, Eliot moved with the shade. He failed to notice the camera pointing down on him! The thermometer here read eighteen degrees Celsius for the afternoon! Beautiful.
I know the days ahead are among the most busy with services regularly - many in private houses and nursing homes where Holy Communion is given to those who cannot come to church and then, in Holy Week, services every evening. I wouldn't change it ... even if by Easter Day you're a complete wreck!
Easter Day is such fun!
We hold an open air "Dawn" service ... even though the sun is well up in the sky by 8.30 am! That's followed by a cooked breakfast before we go into the building for the Easter Day celebration. Again the choir are preparing some fantastic music ... already in practices it lifts my spirits ... what will it not do on that glorious morning?!
Now ... some final attention to the talks for the retreat followed by an early night.
Eternal Spirit of God,
breathe on us that we may know quiet and contented minds
and lay all our burdens on Christ;
take from us all anxiety and disquiet
and draw our hearts to the Father by the power of your love;
lead us to the peace that passes all understanding,
to the silence which reveals you among us. Amen.