Monday, 29 November 2010

Is He laughing at me?

Yesterday was Advent Sunday. At Walmer it marked the much heralded start of a new Christian Year. We had celebrate Christ the King Sunday the previous Sunday and now with our thoughts turning towards Christmas we began our period of anticipation and expectation.
After a number of years we decided to re-introduce a Toy Service, inviting a Missionary from the London City Mission to come and share with us insights into their work in the city. Darren Dotson who works in the Randall Christian Centre, Greenwich rounded off a holiday in Walmer at the LCM Retreat House by sharing with us. He and his family left us with their car laden with black sacks full of new toys we had donated for distribution over the Christmas season to families and especially children he worked with.
After several days of anticipation prompted by severe weather reports, snow fell across Walmer as the congregation walked, drove or cycled to church. It was apt that as we turned 'the page' and entered a new liturgical year that God chose symbolically to make everywhere white. Was this a sign for us that we should be reaching out to all our community with the message of hope and peace that Advent brings to our Christmas observance?
Since the last blog we have had a challenging time pastorally with several folk in hospital undergoing surgery and treatment, others are convalescing whilst others, myself included, are undergoing tests. Two friends have also died after long struggles and we will be joining their families and friends to remember them at services in neighbouring churches.
That said, the pace of church life remains constant and we have ensured that essential fabric maintenance tasks have been undertaken, finalised our plans for Christmas (including distributing 1500+ Advent & Christmas service invitations to our community), met with an architect to advance our kitchen project plans and this week have our Christmas shopping outing to Polhill Shoppig Village.
With a myriad of distractions and a couple of enforced weeks away from college to visit hospitals the deadlines for assignments start to loom large and prompt some serious study. I am preparing to travel back from London with what feels like half the college library in my case to facilitate the writing process over the next few weeks.
I must mention the value I place on having the opportunity to meet from time to time with my support group at Bloomsbury which I did this month. These informal opportunities to share highs and lows of both church and college life with friends who can offer sympathetic, supportive and understanding listening helps considerably.
So, Christmas is the next big event and despite my reluctance to get caught up in the commercialism that drives the secular world and often the church into its celebrations I am prepared and ready for the season. Under its blanket of snow Walmer for a few hours was calm, still, white - a Christmas Card scene. I'm sure God knows how excited I get about snow and, perhaps, as I begin my Advent journey he was smiling at his handiwork and prompting me to get excited at the beginning of a new Church Year.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Remember, remember....

One of the advantages of keeping this blog is that it offers an archive of information on the life of the church that might otherwise be forgotten.

We have just celebrated our second indoor firework party - Spuds & Sparklers - and the universal view was that we had more people attend this year than last. Looking back at the blog I reported last year on our joy at having almost 40 people attend our first outreach event since my arrival in Walmer. That this year we had over 60 attend is evidence that the event was popular and that we have an increasing group of friends who want to join the fun and fellowship of such occasions.

Our Table-top Sale on Saturday also had the feel about it that more people were dropping in than usual. Certainly we served more teas and coffees than usual as we had to refill the hot water pot twice!

The Eleven Empty Spaces exhibition we hosted on behalf of the Dover Museum also attracted over 200 visitors across three days which was encouraging.

We are moving towards Remembrance this week with the opportunity to gather at the graveside of a young naval rating who attended the church in WW! and whose remains are buried in the local cemetery. The local paper has run a small feature on this act of remembrance and we have made contact with a relative of Pte William Bennett.

Pastorally life in the church is challenging as we have a number of folk in hospital - some for cancer treatment - and others recovering from operations. But everyone is being supportive of one another and their needs which is good.

Encouraged by the BU to look at our bank balances we are spending some of our fabric reserves and now have two new sets of stacking chairs for easier use in the hall. The electricians have done some much needed improvements to the church electrics and today the plumber starts renovating the old gents toilet.

Christmas is just around the corner, a raft of assignment deadlines loom for college so the next few weeks promise to be busy!