Makes me sound like some old lugger of a boat that’s been in the dockyard! In some ways, possibly true.
I know it’s been a long silent month since I last posted, but blogging had to take an early Lent as I set aside as much time as possible to “get the house straight”. We’ve been largely successful, though we still have some outlying boxes with relatives, but nothing that we can’t live without a while longer – and may in fact decide to live without for ever! I am wondering what to do with 3-4 largish boxes that contain sea-shells (including a load from South Africa collected in 2006) and fossils (many in shale and therefore a little delicate) collected at Doniford in 2008…
However, the ‘life-laundry’ didn’t mean that nothing else was happening… and that included things “ministry” related. February is the romantic month (well something has to brighten the sky) and with Valentines Day on a Sunday, it was a gift that the vicar and I could not refuse. Therefore we held a “Celebration of Love” which included a renewal of marriage vows, drawing together participants from all our three main morning services into one. We also had an excellent guest speaker in Lou Scott-Joynt who as well as being the wife of our Diocesan Bishop, is also a trained marriage councillor, a Relate trustee, and a Mothers’ Union Trustee here in Winchester Diocese. We also had “Peter’s Puppets” and wedding flowers to brighten the church, with a wedding cake and buck’s fizz reception to follow the service which created a lovely atmosphere.
The format of the service was one that I “doctored” from one that Mothers’ Union issued in 2002, to include a period of reflection on our relationships with God and each other. If you want to see/use it yourself it’s here: Celebration of Love Service – StPs 2010
Throughout the process of planning the service, the vicar and I were acutely aware of those for whom it would be difficult, including the widowed, the divorced and the single. We spent time explaining at services, and to individuals that it was in part a celebration of the God-given love that should be part of all our relationships with people, and that we would be including and praying for all those whose experiences of the marriage relationship had brought sadness or difficulty. It was important for me that those who support married couples in the community, despite their own experiences, could feel part of the worship and thankfulness to God. It was really encouraging that some of those who had misgivings did feel able to come, and of those that gave me feed back had at least in part enjoyed it – as one person said at the door, it was only her own memories that hurt her not the worship or words of the service of sermon. More generally there was a real sense of shared values and friendship, especially with those I didn’t know so well, that seemed to grow from the whole event – my hope and prayer it that we can build on this in some way.
G and I had recently celebrated 20 years of “dating” since “making it official” back in Aberystwyth all that time ago, and G (the more soppy romantic of our partnership) took great delight in creeping into a front seat with me at the appropriate moment, squeezing my hand tight and eventually convincing me to look at him lovingly during the renewal of vows… something I’d have preferred perhaps without being quite so visible to the congregation (being the more easily embarassed one!)
On a related note, yesterday was the Commissioning Service for the new Trustee Board of Mothers’ Union in the Diocese of Winchester at St. Saviours, Brockenhurst in the New Forest. Logistically a nightmare (dropping the dog at Dad’s as I shot through Lyndhurst for a 10am start) there was a really good crowd of about 150 members I should think, excellently organised by the men and women of Brockenhurst MU – the first time I’ve ever had an assigned parking space at what appeared to be quite a palatial mansion (conveniently opposite the church gate!)
The service was led by Right Revd Michael Scott-Joynt, himself an MU member and with a lovely sermon on “Thy Kingdom Come” which reflected on his experiences of MU in DRCongo and elsewhere, before we got down to the business of the day and a workshop led by our new Diocesan President which encouraged us to reflect on why we joined MU, what it contributes now, and what the future holds. I was flagrantly a “noughty” (enrolled in the 2000’s – we were divided by decade of enrollment) and led a large group of members into the chancel to discuss our responses, and reflecting on the fact that we were the group with all the male membership represented (four out of 26 of us).
At the end of the day, in the comfort of my armchair, as I wrote a press release and fired it off at the Diocesan Director of Communications, I reflected on the fact that I am now, in both word and deed, officially Head of Marketing and Communications for Mothers’ Union in the Diocese of Winchester (rather than simply ‘General Trustee’).