Tomorrow I am flying to Napier to attend the national Youth Forum. I will be there for only a day, and on Tuesday will fly to Auckland to join Clemency on a flight to Doha to visit Bridget and Scott. We'll be away about a fortnight. My bag is nearly packed and I have got everything I need except for the folder containing all my Youth Forum papers, which is sitting in the back room of the Cathedral. Never mind. I'll wing it.
The last 24 hours has been quite inspiring. On Saturday evening I was at St. Mary's Mornington for a midwinter dinner. Of the 50 or so people present, the overwhelming majority were young families with children. There were games and an amazing magician with an even more amazing patter. His best trick was to mark a $20 note, then pull it out of the middle of a fresh walnut, which he pulled out of the middle of a fresh, unbroken egg, which he extracted from the middle of a lemon. It was astonishing; almost as astonishing as the sense of vitality and new life to be seen in this parish which has had its share of disappointments and challenges over the years. Whatever John Sherlock, the vicar is doing there, it certainly seems to be working.
This morning I went to the cathedral to confirm 13 young people. They were a bit bleary eyed, having spent the previous night sleeping in the cathedral and I use the word sleeping in the broadest sense of the word which includes tossing, turning, lying awake and clowning about. The service managed a nice balance of homeliness and stateliness, and we finished with a lunch in the soon to be developed crypt. Once more, I was left with the sense of a community with a great deal of vigour and hope. The core Cathedral congregation is comparatively small, but it contains many people of depth and commitment, who know how to get things done.
Then this evening, only a few hours ago, I was back at St. Matthews to speak at their Breakthrough service. As happens every Sunday night at St. Matt's, the big old stone church was stripped of its usual seating and the nave was filled with cafe tables. There was soft, mood lighting, and trestles at the back serving good coffee and a range of muffins and slices and cakes. A band led a few songs, I spoke, there was a reading or two and the band played one more song. It was calm, measured and relaxed. There were more than 100 people present. For the third time in 24 hours I left with a strong sense of a lively, cohesive, interesting community doing lively, cohesive and interesting things.
The strategic plan is developing nicely. I'll post it on here about the same time it is released to the synod. In the meantime, after today, I am even more reassured that there is energy and imagination enough to put it into practise when the time comes. So, with a great deal of satisfaction I leave for Doha and Petra and the River Jordan. I'll be in touch.