As I was getting ready for bed last night, I noticed the full moon in a clear sky right above us - a Michaelmass and Harvest moon - a beautiful comforting sight. I had just one mid-morning service to take today, a combined Harvest Festival celebration for the congregations of St David's and St Timothy's in Ely, at St David's church just a couple of miles from home. I had time for a leisurely breakfast with our visitors before getting started.
I arrived early and the church was already buzzing with activity and anticipation. Among those who welcomed me were a couple of people who attended weekday services in St John's when I was there. By the time we started there were seventy adults and forty children present - both Sunday School groups combined, with their regular helprs and teachers in attendance. It's a credit to the team building efforts of Fr Jessie their Parish priest, on sick leave at the moment. In fact, the entire service was well organised and designed around participation, so that any priest could drop in to Fr Jessie's place and enjoy the liturgy, as I did.
I had to concentrate while preaching as I could just hear forty kids jammed into the nearby vestry, singing fun songs to a guitar, and I wanted to stop and listen. At the end of the Communion, when they all came in for a blessing, they sang us a couple of the action songs they'd learned. All in all, it was a lively and happy celebration, and afterwards many worshippers stayed on to enjoy a buffet lunch together.
I couldn't help wondering throughout the service, how the combined Costa Azahar congregations were getting on with their Harvest Festival and lunch at Alcossebre. I heard yesterday that plans to get a locum priest in to follow me have had a set-back because diocesan safeguarding and CRB checking, obligatory for new recruits, is on hold until someone is appointed to take charge of and review the procedure. I keep on saying to myself - something will come up, someone will arrive for them in the nick of time.
On my way back, I collected Clare, Heinz and Maria Luisa from Riverside market, then after lunch at home we went to the Cathedral for Choral Evensong. It was sheer pleasure to listen again to live singing of such a high standard. Truth is, I don't make the effort to go often enough. The mid afternoon timing of the service isn't nearly as achievable if I've been driving out of town to take a couple of services before lunch. Like it or not, I need more recovery time these days, to savour even the most enjoyable of leisurely activities.