Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Channel Islands, March 30th - April 6th

Liz and I flew out to Jersey on Tuesday March 30th and were immediately into action. Our first visit was to St Ouen, where the sanctuary had been given over to a prayer labyrinth during Holy Week. With Channel Islands' District Chair, the Revd David Coote, we spent some time going round the labyrinth quietly - a very moving experience. This seemed a particularly good way to enable people to reflect on Jesus' journey to the cross and how it relates to our own life's journeys.

From St Ouen we drove to Philadelphie, for a very different experience - 'Messy Church'. We found the church hall full of people engaged in a variety of 'messy' activities, including making 'stained glass windows' and Easter gardens. There was quite a buzz. And it was good to hear that 'Messy Church, which happens here monthly, is attended by quite a lot of people who find traditional services less accessible.

In the evening I joined the Revd Graeme Halls and went to Maison La Corderie (MHA Jersey) for a communion service for Holy Week, at which I presided and gave an address. (Later in the week I had the chance to visit and meet residents at MHA Jersey's other site, Stuart Court.)

Wednesday morning began with a visit to BBC Radio Jersey, to record an 'as live' interview for Sunday morning. I always find such recordings challenging, as you have to imagine that things that you still haven't done have taken place (if you see what I mean). It was also strange to think that people in Jersey might think I was speaking live on Radio Jersey at the same time as I actually would be speaking live on Radio Guernsey. Later in the day we went to the Jersey Evening Post office for another interview.

From Radio Jersey we went with David and Barbara Coote to visit the Bailiff, Michael Birt QC, at his Chambers. I found this a fascinating visit, at which we were made most welcome. Having visited Jersey a number of times over the years and never quite understood how things operated, the Bailiff was able to help me make sense of the different way in which Jersey is governed. We then went into the States Chamber (a building that I've previously only seen from the exterior).

Maundy Thursday morning started with a visit to meet the Lieutenant Governor, Lieutenant General Andrew Ridgway. Based at Government House, the Lieutenant Governor is the Queen's personal representative in Jersey.

Evening worship for Maundy Thursday was a circuit communion service at Georgetown Methodist Church. Liz and I have visited Georgetown quite a number of times over the past few years and I've even been allowed to exercise my 'assistant organist' skills there from time to time. It was good to see so many people we've met on previous visits. Graeme Halls, the minister of Georgetown, had prepared an order of service which started with lighting candles to represent those present at the Last Supper. At the close of the service the candles were extinguished one by one - as the disciples 'all forsook him and fled'.

On Good Friday morning I shared in a service at St Helier Methodist Centre led by the Revd Billy Slatter. People were given a choice between a more 'messy church' kind of activity downstairs or a reflective service in the church upstairs. Liz and I attended the reflective service. My role was simply to stand at the cross with my arms outstretched as nails were hammered in to it. I found this profoundly moving and difficult - and way outside my normal 'comfort zone'. It was the kind of service from which I needed to leave in quiet, rather than join in conversation and coffee.

Richard Vautrey has already covered our Saturday morning together at Bethlehem in his blog. On Saturday afternoon we flew to Guernsey on a small plane which gives you much more of the flying sensation than does a larger jet. All week we'd been watching the weather forecast in case this journey was not going to be possible - but off we went! During our stay in Guernsey we stayed (and had much fun with) the Male family - Andrew, Esther, Martha, James (who was 14 on Saturday!) and Gregory.

Sunday morning saw an early trip to BBC Guernsey to be interviewed along with Guernsey Superintendent, the Revd David Hart. BBC and ITV share the same building here in Guernsey!

Then it was by boat to Sark for Easter morning communion. Again, we had wondered whether the weather would prevent this journey but the morning was bright and sunny. Having never been to Sark before, this was quite an experience. Transport on the island was either tractor or horse drawn (or, of course, bike or foot). The service in Sark Methodist Church was led by myself and David Hollingsworth.

The morning service was followed by lunch together with members of the congregation - a most impressive lunch of local roast lamb, followed by fruit crumble and custard (a lifetime favourite of mine). We then toured part of the island (which is very beautiful) before catching the charter boat back to Guernsey.

On Easter Evening I shared in a Guernsey Circuit Service at Galaad (pictured, right).

Easter Monday gave Liz and me the chance to explore St Peterport and other parts of the Island before travelling back to London on Tuesday. (The picture below shows St Peterport as night falls.)

No comments: