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An Iona-ish weekend!

Posted on April 29th, 2012

This weekend has been AMAZING!  So amazing that I just have to tell you all about it!

On Friday night I attended a ‘Big Sing’ with John Bell from the Iona Community and his colleague Christine.  It was an incredible experience to see someone teach three- and four-part harmony to a group of people with a mixed experience of singing, usually unaccompanied by any instruments!  John inspired everyone with the confidence to sing despite their reservations and the beautiful church of St. John’s at Studley was filled with divine music all night long!

Saturday was a day of workshops with John.  The morning was titled ‘Why do God’s people sing?’ and the afternoon was looking at the Bible.  It was a really interesting day – taking me back to my first year of theology at university in the afternoon – and I met some really lovely people!  Christine and I had been speaking the night before, and I gave her some music to take away, and I was touched by how grateful she was.  I’ll come back to this day in a moment.

Then today was a Communion service at St. John’s, with the sermon preached by John.  He was speaking about Psalm 23 and had some really interesting points to make about the nature of God as shown through the Psalm.  I shan’t steal his thunder and put them down here, but it was a great sermon!

So, what does all this have to do with anything?  One of my favourite sayings is ‘Coincidence is God’s way of staying anonymous’ and I could see at lot of this happening this weekend.

Firstly, I had found out about this weekend purely by chance.  Or ‘chance’!  I was having a look at a church’s website while searching for my next concert venue and thought that the poster looked interesting, so I signed up to Saturday’s workshops.  Then I was asked if I wanted to go to the Big Sing, too, which of course I did!  So that was all a bit coincidental.

Then I moved house on 10th April and was sitting around feeling a bit blue about the move and started to look on the internet for things going on in the local area.  When I had a look at the Salisbury Diocese website I found a course to get a certificate in church music.  I started to get excited and wrote to the contact to find out how much it cost etc.  Turns out it was free!  Superb!  So I enrolled and picked my modules…one of which is called ‘Why do we sing?’  Reading list: John Bell.  Fantastic work, God!

And so then I was trying to decide where to go to church now I’ve moved house.  I think it’s always good to shop around a bit, to find out what suits you, so I was going to be doing that.  However, I feel a bit like I’ve been taken to my new church home.  The people at St. John’s this weekend have been so welcoming and friendly, and I was really enjoying getting to know them.  One couple in particular really took care of me and made sure I wasn’t left on my own for too long, introduced me to different people…really special.  Turns out I’m now going to the church’s barn dance next Saturday night and I fully intend to be there on Sunday morning, too!  Not dancing…

So all really good so far!  Now the next fantastic piece of work by the big old G-O-D would have to be the Taizé.  I love Taizé as anyone who’s met me knows!  So when someone said that the curate at St. John’s was trying to develop the music of the church, I thought I’d offer it up as a suggestion, either as a once-off workshop or as a regular thing.  Oh yes, they’ve been after a regular Taizé service for some time and hadn’t quite managed to get it sorted.  Thank you again, Lord!!

Add to all of this three members of the church with whom I have mutual friends, a lovely church building and an incredibly positive experience all round, I am feeling very loved and cared for.  What a wonderful God we have!!!

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