Monday, 1 April 2013
A Very Busy Easter
Never have a baptism on Easter Sunday The Rector@6 was told by colleagues when he was in training. (Despite being biblical, it is usually too busy with services.) So first Easter after training - what does he do - he has an infant baptism on Easter Sunday. And what a joy it was! The sun shone and the little village church was absolutely packed - not only with the Easter congregation, the baptism party but also visitors from far and wide who were staying in holiday rentals or with relatives. In fact the whole weekend has been a joy!
Good Friday and Easter Saturday followed the pattern of previous years with excellent Easter garden construction by the children in two of the villages. There had been activites from stone painting to chocolate nest making and egg hunts arranged by members of the clergy and lay team. It was lovely to see so many children confidently busying themselves around the churchyard and having fun. There was also a reflective hour at the cross for adults with music and readings which The Rector@6 and I could attend together.
Easter day started with a Book of Common prayer communion service in the church that was just a mile up the road. With the clocks changing, it was an early start for us but not as early as the last year's sunrise service in Devon. The drive along the country lane was full of spring promise - the hard overnight frost was beginning to thaw but still added a sparkle to fence posts and gates as they were caught by the sun. An early egret was disturbed from the stream that runs along the lane and lazily rose up into the air in a brillant white streak. The car was full of primroses for the congregation to take home after the service. The church only has three tolling bells - but they were expertly rung by the sidesman, in a series of patterns that were lively and inviting. Sixteen hardy soles made it to this service and it was good to see them.
I drove The Rector@6 (still in cassock and surplice) back to the village church. It is such a shame that he cannot stay and talk to new faces when there are other churches waiting for his services. He arrived in time to talk to the baptism party and for extra hymn books (borrowed from the other church) to be given out. The newly created children's area was already in use and the overflow chairs full! The baby behaved, The children who helped with the sermon - cooperated willingly (and were not just chocolate egg bribed!) and people sang enthusiastically. The organist scooped up her student daughter on the way back from communion and they sang beautifully (all unplanned) during communion as there was rather a long queue of people. After the service there was a primrose for each family to take with them as a reminder of the Easter message. The holiday visitors were thrilled and amazed that our small village church could be so vibrant and alive in sleepy rural Dorset and tell us that they will be returning next year. A few villagers who don't normally come to church but had just come to see the new vicar - have also said they will be back. But what will they find next time? The reality is trying to keep these small village churches in the centre of the rural community and alive.