Sunday, April 12, 2009

The feast of feasts

Just eight of us met as the sun set last night, to light the Paschal Candle and announce the resurrection. In addition to the four regulars and myself at eight o'clock this morning, there were another fifteen people in church, a bit like last Easter Sunday, when an american teacher turned up with a party of high school students to join us and make their Easter Communion. This time it was mainly delegates attending the annual NUT conference, this year being staged in St David's Hall. One of them was Nina from Bristol, a woman I prepared for confirmation twenty eight years ago when she was a young secondary teacher living in the St Paul's area. What a surprise. We haven't met in all those years since I left there.

At the main Eucharist there were ninety people in church, visitors from all over the world, but also once more, delegates from the NUT conference, from all over Britain. There was a vibrant and joyful atmosphere, and it really felt like Easter Day. Clare said she felt like dancing out in the choir procession to the paschal melody Philip was playing on the organ. After lunch, I took Communion to the three people currently receiving at home, then to round off the day of worship, at Evensong instead of there being a dozen, there were forty people in church. Some were making their second visit of the day.

With ninety seven communicants and a total of 150 worshipping with us today, that's the best Easter attendance in St John's in my time, possibly in a decade. And let's face it, that's thanks to the NUT national conference being on the doorstep, and the inspiring fact that so many teachers, including many willing to take a lead and exercise responsibility, are practising Christians. They give themselves to imparting new life to society through their special ministry to young people.

After Evensong, Clare and I drove down to the Gower, to Oxwich, where we've hired a holiday cottage for the inside of the week, in a delightful village, within earshot of the sea. It was dark by the time we arrived, but the skies were clear, and in this place without street-lighting, the glory of the heavens was thrilling to behold. We walked to the beach in the dark, and stood for a while looking and listening, savouring the peace enfolding us at the end of a very busy week and weekend. I'm tired. Nevertheless, He is risen indeed. That's all that matters.

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