Do You Remember (From the November issue of InTouch)

I was a young curate, fresh out of training college, full of ideas and energy, and I loved visiting, so my first weeks of ordained ministry were very special. Being a curate gave me a freedom to focus on meeting and supporting people in their homes and in nursing homes/hospitals. I remember visiting one lovely couple in their home where the husband was entering a difficult phase of Alzheimer’s and the family were facing the tough decision about putting him in care. Even then there was little response from him, always a smile but no response.
In time the move to nursing home care was completed and I went to visit him in his new home. The smile was less certain, and my conversation with him became quite stilted. His wife would have previously filled this gap with general chit-chat, but now he was sitting in a large comfortable armchair in a large room filled with 19 others in similar circumstances. Finally I said I had to go, and as usual, said a prayer with him followed by the Lord’s Prayer. After the first two lines my reverently closed eyes shot open, as every single person in that room joined in the wonderfully familiar Our Father.
It was a strange silence in the room after our prayer but one that had taught me a profound lesson. It was more than a reflex action, more than a mindless recitation; it was a remembered shared experience.
November is our ‘remembering’ month; whether it’s the All Saints remembering of loved ones who have died in recent days, weeks, months and years or the marking of the centenary of the start of the horror of World War One. For families who have loved ones now living on the far side of the world, it is also the month of remembering to send their parcels, gifts and cards in plenty of time for Christmas. It is so important for us individually and collectively to remember together, to share each other’s pain, to comfort one another in our grief, and to stand in the gap for those who need our support in this month of remembering.
All Saints: On Sunday, 2nd November at our 11am Communion Service we will have our annual procession of candles remembering our loved ones who have died. This is
an important service for us to give thanks and support.

Congratulations: to John Marks on his 80th birthday; the parish hockey team who won the Archbishop’s cup and to Roisin Hiney, a member of the Bray Guide Company, who achieved the top award given.

From the Rectory November 2015

Life is a Rollercoaster

The past few weeks have been filled with sadness and loss mingled with moments of pride and extraordinary generosity. The murder of Garda Tony Golden in Omeath has sent shock waves around the nation. This ‘gentle giant’, in the course of his duty, was gunned down as he sought to protect and assist. Our heartfelt sympathy goes to all his family and friends and colleagues both here in Bray and in County Louth.

For this tragedy to be so quickly followed by the death of so many in the fire at a halting site in Carrickmines was doubly devastating. Attending the removal of Tara, Willie, Jodie, Kelsey and Jimmy yesterday, as the funeral cortege began its sad and slow journey through Bray, I was struck at how poignantly tragic it was that so many young lives were lost so quickly. As we prepare for the funerals of members of the O’Connor’s family our heartfelt prayers are for all who are devastated by this awful tragedy.

It has been such a horrible year of tragedy that our hearts and minds can be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of disasters. We are shaken to our core by the vulnerability of life that can turn from joy-filled excitement to devastating loss in such a swift and deadly way. And yet, as Georgia Murphy taught us over the summer, life is for living in all its vitality and vivid colours. The beginning of November allows us time and space to remember and to grieve; we literally learn to focus on one hour, one day at a time; to look beyond today is too hard and threatens to undo us. We can only get up each morning, breathe in, look at what the day ahead has for us and live it to its full potential.

From The Rectory – October 2015

Time to say goodbye:
The news that our wonderful Youth Pastor, Kirsty Lynch, is leaving has sent ripples of shock throughout our parish community. Over the past 4½ years Kirsty has been a fantastic friend, a gifted leader and a dedicated Youth Pastor. The secret to her impact on us has been her involvement in every aspect of our parish life, She has never seen herself as an ’employee’ but as a parishioner as well. Youth Pastors tend to focus exclusively on the teenage community, they are not always blessed with the gift of administration but Kirsty has shown extraordinary clarity of mind and organisational skills, she has worked with every age group within the parish from 0 years to 18 years. We will miss Kirsty terribly, both in her impact on our young people, but especially as a friend. We congratulate her on her appointment to ‘The Prince’s Trust’, and wish her every blessing on the next stage of her ministry.
Kirsty’s final Sunday with us will be Sunday 11th October, which also happens to be our Parish Review Meeting as we discern what next for our ministry, property and finance. There are more details about this meeting below, but for now, we pray for Kirsty as she moves on in her ministry. There will be an opportunity to express our thanks to Kirsty on the 11th October. If you want to express that appreciation in a tangible way, please put your gift in an envelope marked ‘Youth Pastor Appreciation’ and drop it into the parish office or the Rectory.
Over the coming weeks the Select Vestry will be discerning what is next for our Youth and children’s ministry, please pray for us in the decisions that lie ahead. In the meantime it is intended that all youth activities will continue as usual, subject to having sufficient leaders in place.

From The Rectory – September 2015

Greetings: Jambo; Habari; Ni na wa salimu myote Katika jina la Jesu Christu (Hello, how are you? I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ). Greetings in Kenya are a whole lot more than just saying hello; they are about establishing a connection that can lead to a relationship. As in Ireland, that connection is often based on things that we might share in common, so very early on in the conversation the Kenyan Christian will tell you about what is the most important part of her/his life: their relationship with their personal saviour, Jesus Christ. During services visitors are invited to bring and to receive greetings, so, with great pleasure, it is my honour to bring you the heartfelt greetings of the Bishop of the Diocese of Kajiado (a vast area just south of Nairobi which is approximately the size of Northern Ireland). Bishop Gaddiel Lenini has warm memories of being a guest of CMSI and Bray Parish during the 200th anniversary celebrations of that wonderful Anglican missionary organisation.

From previous visits to Kajiado and to Kampala in Uganda I have been aware of the importance of the greeting, but in truth had forgotten its significance. It was probably best summed up by Archdeacon Joseph of Loitokitok archdeaconary, who noted there were 26 parishes in his archdeaconry and that, as a result of our visit, he now considered his archdeaconry to consist of 27 parishes, Bray included.

Of course all this friendship is a step into relationship and in Kenyan culture relationship leads to true partnership by building up trust. It is a wonderfully simple yet profound truth that partnership can only emerge from the trust that builds up through relationship. Our relationship with the Diocese of Kajiado is four-way. It is a partnership between the Parish of St. Marks Dundela in Belfast and the parish of Bray in County Wicklow. Because of our Narnian links (C.S. Lewis went to St. Mark’s as a child where his grandfather was Rector) and Bray has run two large Narnia Exhibitions, this link with Aslan the Lion is a natural connection with Kenya and its stunning scenery, amazing wildlife and its wonderful people.

The team from St. Mark’s spent 10 days in the Urban Development Project run with Nairobi Cathedral, while the team from Bray spent ten days at the Maasai Rural Training Centre in Oltiasika, not far from the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. In 10 days we fixed school desks, made window frames and built computer tables for the Diocesan Training Centre in Imbirikani (just an hour long, very bumpy jeep ride down the road). Of course our efforts at woodwork were (thankfully) so much more than developing our skills. It was about connecting and building relationships with members of the MRTC, with mothers and grandmothers who passed by carrying water home and especially with the pupils of the nearby Oltiasika primary school who came to gaze, to play football and to have a good giggle. With our involvement with the school through classes and assemblies, initial shyness swiftly turned to friendship and peals of laughter at the antics of the Mzungus (white people).

You truly have not lived until you have stood in a normal-sized classroom with over 200 students who are singing and dancing and praising God with all their might. So greetings are important; they literally open the door into relationship, trust and partnership.

I can’t wait to go back and deepen the bonds of friendship and partnership.
– Baden.