As I come to the end of December just before this year’s celebration of Christmas with the anticipation of moving onto my new post in mid-January, I find myself doing a lot of ‘last things’. I took the services at our small congregations at both Palma Nova and Cala D’Or earlier this week for the last time. I have chaired my last Church Council meeting in Palma, attended my last Christmas Bazaar at the church and so on. Today I find myself writing this my last article for the Majorca Daily Bulletin as Anglican Chaplain for Majorca.
So my first thought at this point is to say a big thankyou to everyone at the MDB who have put up with my various rants over the years, all of the rather odd things that I have undoubtedly written during this period, and both the celebrations that I’ve wittered on about and the moments of being just a grumpy old so and so!
Mr Jason Moore and all who work with him have been a very tolerant bunch and I thank you all for your patience and for allowing me this platform over the last seven plus years. It has been a pleasure and an honour. I recall arriving in Palma back in 2012 and having a chat with someone at the Bulletin who asked if I’d write for it. I’d never done anything like this before of course so I said I’d give it a few weeks and see.
Of course my subject matter has had some, shall we just say, ‘repeated themes’ over these seven years. Looking back over past articles on my computer there seems to be maybe one or two comments here and there having a dig at Donald Trump, bewailing Britain’s still impending but now much more likely exit from the European Union, and generally being a bit of a moaner when it comes to dishonesty in politics. Of course there has been a never failing supply of material to write about in this way.
I have to admit a particular political view which I do understand may not be shared by everyone, but there’s no point in hiding your light under a bushel basket is there! I hope that I have also used these weekly articles to let people know of what has been happening in specific part of our community that I have been responsible for, that is the Anglican Chaplaincy.
So that has been about the various acts of worship that we have offered over the last seven years during the annual cycle of New Year, Easter, Harvest, Remembrance, and Christmas to name but a few. There have also been some memorable social events put on by the church and perhaps in particular, by way of examples, the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the church building here in Palma a couple of years ago and the various ACDC (Anglican Church Drama Club just in case you were wondering!) plays and farces that I have to say I’ve relished.
But then I hope that these articles have also been a chance to say that in the life of the Church and in the Christian faith there is an often different way of thinking about human life and of the essential valuing of all human beings, irrespective of the different ways that we tend to value people in secular society. My continuing thought is that the Christian faith offers ‘an alternative’ way of looking at things both on the individual and the social level. I am rather pleased to say that the only letters of complaint that I’ve had over the past seven years, and there have only been one or two, have always been along the lines of ‘keep out of politics and stick to prayer’ variety. I take these as signs of success!
And then I have enjoyed telling readers about what I do as a Chaplain and my hope is that this enjoyment might have been shared by those same readers! But of course nothing in life is guaranteed!
So I have taken, at a rough estimate, about four hundred weddings, approximately one and twenty hundred funerals, and I’d guess around fifty baptisms during my seven years. I’ve not preached every week as we have a very good group of experienced preachers who share this ministry and I hope that such variety enhances church life. So I’d guess somewhere in the region of three hundred sermons and led probably more than seven hundred weekly services given that we have more than one of these each week. So put like that it all sounds rather a lot, but its been a very enjoyable experience I have to say.
In all of these one or two moments stand out in my memory. One was a Carol service a few years ago when in a candle lit and packed church a child soloist gently sang the first verse of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ unaccompanied. Then on the second verse, the organ came in, the congregation stood as one and joined in. It was a ‘hairs on the back of my neck’ moment, marking for me, somehow, the arrival of Christmas!
Then there was the bride at a wedding at an outside venue when the wind on the north coast was so high that we all had to lean into it and her veil, which was unfortunately rather long, stood out at right angles from her head as she held it on with one hand throughout the service. Poor thing!
Or then again in my early days of writing for the Bulletin and attempting a bit of Spanish but with an English keyboard and therefore no proper Spanish grammar, I managed to wish everyone a happy new anus rather than a happy new year! But you live and learn!
Anyway, as I’ve said before in these pages, enough wittering on from me! As we celebrate the events of this forthcoming week, may I wish you a blessed and happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
The final word is of course ‘goodbye’. But I am reminded that it’s a shortening in old English of the phrase ‘God be with you’. So perhaps you’ll allow me just to say ‘goodbye’ in that spirit.