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The Curate Comments

Terry Lilburn

Elsewhere you may have read some of my thoughts on Advent and something of what Christmas means and brings to our lives in a spiritual dimension. But what of the other side of Christmas and the New Year? There is the all-important present buying. Some people will be very organised having completed all that by the end of last month at the latest. Or, like my grandmother, have been squirrelling away gifts throughout the year, courtesy of a little notebook she kept in her handbag. "July, cousin xxx remarked she needed a new purse." Knowing full well that the person would still be using the old one come December, lo and behold Christmas dinner table come Christmas, there was the replacement, to the amazement of the recipient. Then there is all the food and drink that will be consumed and regrettably all that will be wasted. A little less of everything allows for the giving of more to those who have little or nothing in whatever form that takes.
Amid all the fun and laughter, the jollity and the celebrations however, there will be sadness. In many homes there will be for the first time an empty chair at the Christmas dinner table and all the gaiety and festivity only seem to emphasise pain of loss. That gap can never be filled but The gift of your presence in someone's life is one of the most valuable you will ever give, but in that giving you will receive ten-fold.
As we celebrate the anniversary of the arrival of Christ into the world as a new born baby, may you each be filled with his love and his peace. May 2014 bring you the happiness you wish for yourselves.
And finally.
Thank you to all those who have been such a help and support to us whilst Ricky and Elizabeth have been away. "Rectory-sitting" over the past six weeks has been both a privilege and a pleasure although not without some difficulties. The Duchess was naturally a little apprehensive about moving from home but was assured that the fully fitted and equipped kitchen would meet her standards. The lack of a potato-ricer however initially caused some problems, but resilient as she is, experiments with a colander and latterly a sieve produced reasonably acceptable results. In the absence of the person responsible for weeding and raking the driveway gravel, (who has not been seen since the rector left) I have had to purchase knee-pads for her ladyship. She is also finally getting value from the leaf blower I gave her for her birthday,

As this is being written the weather has changed significantly from what it was just a week or so ago. As it is being read "Summer Time" will have ended, the clocks put back an hour and winter will be with us. With the change of season come new challenges and opportunities. With the departure of the rector and his lady wife to foreign parts, this writer is certainly faced with new challenges, the opportunities may have to be looked for! I feel very privileged that the responsibility of looking after the parish and its people has been so readily afforded me, not just in a superficial way but rather as an integrated part of it, as the Duchess and I take up residence in the rectory for the next seven weeks. I have no doubt that we will have the prayers and support of parishioners and we will certainly do the best that we can to ensure the smooth running of all parish activities. I would very much appreciate being kept informed of anyone who may be ill or undergoing a stay in hospital or nursing home. Too often clergy find out too late about such matters, the thinking being "I know how busy you are and I didn't like to bother you." A part of the job is "being bothered" and a visitor to the rectory or a telephone call is never regarded as a nuisance. Please, please do call if you think that I can be of any assistance. I look forward to being of service and of meeting with many of you at the various services and activities over the coming weeks.

And finally
If you can start the day without caffeine or pills,
If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you time,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can do all these things,
Then you are probably the family dog.

The Centre of the Bible
Q: What is the shortest chapter in the Bible?
A: Psalm 117
Q: What is the longest chapter in the Bible?
A: Psalm 119
Q: Which chapter is in the centre of the Bible?
A: Psalm 118
Fact: There are 594 chapters before Psalms 118
Fact: There are 594 chapters after Psalms 118
Add these numbers up and you get 1188.
Q: What is the centre verse in the Bible?
A: Psalm 118:8
Q: Does this verse say something significant
about God's perfect will for our lives?
'It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence
in man.'
The next time someone says they would like to find God's perfect will for their lives and that they want to be in the centre of his will, just send them to the centre of his Word!
Now isn't it odd how this worked out or was God in the
centre of it?

Last Christmas I received a most generous gift from a family member. It came in two parts, one part a voucher for airline travel to London and a second voucher for an upmarket dining establishment, somewhere that I have wanted to visit for over 40 years. Due to other commitments, it was only recently that I was able to avail of this gift and so I set about making the necessary arrangements. Today, with the aid of the Internet, it is amazingly easy to put everything in place, booking the table, arranging flights and accommodation etc.
Such an experience warrants bringing someone to share it and who better than the Duchess. The voucher being for Aer Lingus I checked flight availability and prices. No problem; flights available to and from with a little juggling of our timetable. Aer Lingus' seat sale however doesn't start for a week or two yet so I was gently relieved of 150. Family members not being too keen to deliver parents to the airport at 5.00am, car-parking for two days was necessary - 18. One overnight in London not bad at 124. Discounted return tickets from Heathrow 50 plus underground to and from our hotel, a further 18. Dinner in our pre booked establishment minus our voucher, plus a tip 35. Taxi back to the hotel 12.
Next day a trip to the world's most famous department store for some very meagre shopping 25, forgetting that we had only cabin luggage with us. Checking in the same bag which now contained some comestibles in jars and therefore liable to confiscation at security, "29 sir, thank you very much!"
We had a wonderful two days holiday, a dining experience that was absolutely memorable for the standard of service, the food and the ambience. We also have some rather expensive grocery items that will form part of offspring's Christmas presents this year but which I know will bring a great deal of both pleasure and amusement to the recipients. I haven't done the maths and I don't intend to. There is the cost of a gift and there is the value of it. And finally a word to the ladies of the parish: if a man says he will do something/fix something, he'll do it. There is no need to keep reminding him every six months.
The maker of all human beings is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to the serious defect in the primary and central component or heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been technically termed, 'Subsequential Internal Non-Morality,' or more commonly known as S-I-N, as it is primarily symptomized by loss of moral judgment. Some other symptoms are: (a) Loss of direction (b) Foul vocal emissions (c) Amnesia of origin (d) Lack of peace and joy (e) Selfish, or violent, behaviour (f) Depression or confusion in the mental component The manufacturer, who is neither liable or at fault for this defect, is providing factory authorized repair and service, free of charge to correct this SIN defect, at numerous locations throughout the world. The number to call for the recall station in your area is: P-R-A-Y-E-R WARNING: Continuing to operate the human unit without correction, voids the manufacturer's warranty, exposing owner to dangers and problems too numerous to list. For free emergency service, call on J-E-S-U-S for prompt assistance at any location worldwide.

I am somewhat undecided as to how I feel about September. Long memories of a return to school with all that brought with it. In the early 60’s there would be conkers to gather and as time went on the prospect of resuming playing rugby. Every year however was overshadowed by the thought of the classroom, homework and other unpleasantness. Later life has brought the anticipation of winter-warming food, perhaps if one is lucky a game bird or two or some venison, some fullbodied wines to accompany and Sunday afternoon teas in front of a newly installed logburning fire. There are also the harvest festival services to look forward to with the added bonus this year of the Kilbride Flower Festival. But childhood memories are once again nudging as one recommences academic study after an all too short break for the summer months. What seemed like a good idea at the time (September 2010) now seems less so.
On a more positive note however, I realise that I am now beginning my third year as curate in this wonderful parish. I greatly look forward to all that the rest of this calendar year has on offer and I hope that many of you feel the same.
And finally: A rector goes into a pet store to place an order: “I need at least 50 mice, 2000 ants and as many of those little silverfish you can get.”
The clerk replies, “We can probably do that, but it might take some time. Mind if I ask why you are placing such an unusual order?”
The rector replies, “I've accepted an appointment to an- other church and the Select Vestry told me to leave the rectory the way I found it.”

12oz. 1st Kings 4:22
2 Cups Jeremiah 6:20
2 Cups 1st Samuel 30:12b 2 Cups Nahum 3:12
4 oz Judges 5:25
8 oz. Numbers 17:8 Dash 2nd Chronicles 9:9 2 Tbs. 1st Samuel 14:25 6 Jeremiah 17:11 Pinch Leviticus 2:13
4 oz Judges 4:19
2 Tbs. Amos 4:5
Follow Solomon’s prescription for making a good boy - Proverbs 23:14. And you will have a good cake. Bake in a square cake tin, greased and floured.

After Gracie Allen the comedienne died, George Burns, her husband of almost 40 years, found a note in her dresser drawer. It read... “George, don't put a full stop where God intended a comma. Love, Gracie”

I sometimes think that is the manner in which we treat two of our great Christian festivals, Christmas and Easter and particularly Easter. There is the build-up to the great event and then......? Then what? Not for no reason is the Sunday after Easter known as “Low Sunday” when the joy and celebration that we experienced with the news of the risen Christ seems to have all too quickly evaporated and been forgotten.
We can however bring with us into the coming weeks and months something of our experiences of Holy Week. For those who participated in the services there was the peace and assurance of the service of wholeness and healing, the solemnity of Holy Communion on Thursday evening with the ritual stripping of the altar and removal of all the hangings, leaving the church stark and bare of colour in preparation for the next day. And on Good Friday what a privilege to share in joint worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ and follow the Cross from St Mary’s through the village. And how symbolic to follow it up the hill – a stark reminder of how another cross was carried up a hill almost 2,000 years ago. The quietness of the church as dozens of candles were lit in remembrance and in hope. The poignancy of Friday evening heightened by the choir’s beautiful rendition of “All in an April evening”.
And so to Easter Day: sunrise somewhat later than usual with the start of Summer Time and although it might have been the official start to summer, nobody told the weather! Cold and windy but thankfully no rain as the paschal fire was lit in the ruins of the original Powerscourt Church and its light carried from thence into the darkened St Patrick’s. “Christ is risen. Alleluia!” Later on more beautiful music and hymn singing by both congregation and choir including the magnificent Easter Anthems. “Please sir, can we have some more?”
But there isn’t a full stop after Easter Day. The risen Christ went on being with the disciples until his Ascension but not before promising to send the Holy Spirit so we can say with confidence “The Lord is here, His Spirit is with us.” Our Easter celebrations can go on and on and on as indeed they do each Sunday as we remember his resurrection to new life. The weather at present may not be just as warm as we would like but we can live lives that are joyful, full of hope and anticipation, warmed in the aftermath of the glow of that Paschal fire and all that it symbolises for us.
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