From Palm Sunday through to midday on Easter Sunday I led 9 services; pretty average for the time of year I'd say. There were two chrism Eucharists, where our people renew vows of various sorts - baptismal and ordination - and where anointing oil is blessed for use in the coming year. Then I went to Queenstown to lead Wakatipu Parish's celebration of the risen Christ which involved the usual cycle of services on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a baptism on Saturday afternoon. Most years I seem to be spread thinly about the place, leading portions of the Easter celebration in a number of different churches, sometimes preaching, sometimes presiding at the Eucharist, sometimes both. Last week I was there for it all, and it was wonderful to be part of a community again, even if only for a few days, and find myself caught up again in the great drama of Holy Week as it progressed through death and waiting to resurrection.
Of course being in Queenstown added to it all. The parish is full of interesting and talented people amongst whom are counted the parish musicians. There are, so I am told, around 19,000 permanent residents of Queenstown but on any given night close to 80,000 people will be sleeping there. (Or, more accurately, as presence in the streets anytime after 10.00pm will attest, staying awake there). This meant that on Sunday morning we had to run two shifts for the main morning service, with the church being packed out for both, and with about 80% of the congregation hailing from somewhere other than Queenstown. Alison the music director coaches a spectacular and surprising quality of sound from what is actually a fairly small choir and the innovative and talented Mark Wilson always makes his presence felt.
We had lunch after church with one parishioner and afternoon tea with another, then on Monday towed the caravan home in a leisurely fashion, stopping for coffee and fruit and scenery as opportunity arose. I had a full week planned, but on Monday night slept for around 12 hours instead of my customary six and knew my body was telling me something: to have a low week leading up to low Sunday.
So I did. I had a couple of days off. I've spent the week answering emails and tidying up my study. I've thought about Thomas so I can speak about him when I confirm half a dozen people in All Saints tomorrow. The rest of the week, and the rest of the year opens up before me.