or more accurately Quiet Sundays in rural Northamptonshire NOT! Today has been fun and far from quiet.
This morning I was at Irthlingborough Methodist Church leading worship. We were able to pray over all the Christmas shoe boxes they have collected for the Samaritans Purse project Operation Christmas Child. Part of the goal seems to be to build a wall of shoe boxes to hide the minister.
The service also included a few other firsts.
- We used our new projection screen. I am really pleased with this, we fitted it on Monday night and it looks and works great. So often screens look terrible in Churches. However, this fits very neatly in the refurbished church. It is central, nearly 2m above the platform and can be easily removed so that nothing remains when it is not being used. It is designed to be fixed to a wall with a rigid frame and the screen is tensioned between them. For us it rests on a ledge and is tied back to the old choir balcony rail. Anyway the results today were superb.
- It was also my first use of my new laptop for a service. First time I have had a Linux machine capable of playing a DVD and working well with dual screens. All went pretty well, a little fumble with the switch between OpenOffice Impress and the dvd but other than that all ok. Not very excited about the performance of OpenOffice on this machine given it has a dual core 64bit processor.
Anyway I loved the service. We were looking at Mark 13:1-8 and some of the themes of that passage connected very powerfully with our situation. See Dave Faulkner's Sermon: Christ-Centred Priorities where he makes some similar points (and that sermon was very helpful in my final preparation).
I used the human rainbow method I learned from the Mennonites to add a bit of interaction as we considered our attitudes to the return of Jesus. It led to some good sharing and the encouraging news that the congregation are looking forward to the return of Jesus – even if several said they would prefer to have the Sunday lunch they had prepared first Methodists really do like sharing food, possibly nearly as much as Jesus according to the gospel accounts.
I am really enjoying getting to know the church here, it is a real joy to be with them at this stage in their life with so many things taking off following the huge refurbishment.
I was there on Thursday morning for one of those – Little Fishes – a toddler group that is refreshingly open about the gospel message and full too. On Wednesday they start a regular lunch for the community on the day when nowhere else is open in the community.
Sadly, I had to dash off soon after the end of the service – the preacher had gone on a bit and we had lots of singing (yes it was me and I know it is all my fault, but I hate rushing worship) – as I had a Church council meeting at Thrapston.
It was an important milestone for our small congregation there. Our first Church council since Enid, our friend, organist and Church Council Secretary died from cancer in the summer (see 42: Changing lives about the funeral). On Friday several of us had been to a Requiem and Thanksgiving service at Bishop Stopford School which was packed.
So it was a big moment for us. But the congregation are lovely people who show great care and thoughtfulness and deep faith so we prayed, reflected and planned together. Next summer will be the Churches 125th Anniversary and plans are being made for that (so if anyone reading this has connections with Thrapston Methodist Church over the last 125 years please do get in touch).
After the Church Council it was back home for a while, not with Jane though as she was dropping one son in Northampton for a concert rehearsal and collecting another from the station after a weekend in London with an Aunt.
Our paths did cross a little later. Jane was driving home up Primrose Hill with our youngest son while I was driving down it on the way to our 4th Circuit Taste and See service – so we waved at each other.
This Taste and See was at Kingsway Methodist Church, Wellingborough and was a Taizé style service. Like all the others in our series (so far we have had Contemporary, Traditional and Cafe) it was ably led by a team of our Circuit Local Preachers – several of whom go to Taizé most years. The numbers attending these fortnightly services have been really encouraging as have the discussions and feedback afterwards over tea. Our last one is in two weeks (29th November) in Thrapston at 3pm – a Community Carol Service with the Thrapston Town Band.
From Wellingborough I went straight on to Northampton where I met Jane at the Dearngate Theatre for a "Youth in Concert" performance. Our oldest was in the Sax choir (in the lobby before the start), County Concert Band and County Youth Orchestra. A fantastic set of performances from those groups plus the County Big Band, Brass Band and Choir. Again we gave thanks that the Methodist Church sent us to Northamptonshire, our oldest son has had such wonderful opportunities through the county music service.
Mind you, as we have looked at schools around the country recently we are also reminded how thankful we are for the excellent education they have all had in Raunds, particularly from Manor School.
Anyway finally saw everyone at the same time for the first time this weekend at just after 11pm Sunday night. Anyone who thinks weekends are quiet here has not been part of our family.
Off to bed soon, busy week as I am away Tuesday through Thursday at a conference on Church planting called Mission 21 Planting Life – very much looking forward to it.