Sunday, 29 July 2012

Celebration at L'Ermita

As it was the fifth Sunday of the month, all three congregations of the Costa Azahar chaplaincy met for a united service at the L'Ermita de Vinaròs.

Ken had agreed to bring his euphonium to accompany hymns. I equivocated for ages about whether or not to take the guitar I've been loaned to play while I'm here. It's a long time, decades since I last accompanied a service I took, yet I wanted to know how this guitar would sound in the beautiful vaulted space of the chapel at L'Ermita, so in the end I took it with me, and as we were there an hour beforehand, I had the opportunity to play and enjoy the soundscape, just for pleasure. Then Ken arrived, and we looked at the hymns I'd chosen, figured out what key I would need to transpose into to provide an accompaniment, and then after a brief practice, it was time to arrange how the sanctuary could best be used with four of five chaplaincy worship leaders and myself taking part.

The service was preceded by the welcome announcement of the arrival date of the new chaplain, Father Clem, made by Michael Cowdery, the acting chairman of the church council.

This now sets Monday 10th September as my date to return home to Cardiff, in good time to get ready to share the beginning of term with students and St Mike's, and goodness know what else will come my way as Autumn unfolds. The lessons for the day yielded some useful reflections to preach on about praying to make way for the new Chaplain, and sharing in mission and ministry together with openness to God's surprises. There were about three dozen of us present, and twenty nine received Communion. Ken and I duetted for three of the four hymns, and I left him to accompany the final hymn 'Forth in thy name O Lord I go', as it has an irregular rhythm, naturally suited to be led by a single brass voice. It worked well, as did all the hymns, sounding beautiful in that lovely place of worship.

Twenty of us sat down together to lunch on paella in the restaurant next door after the service. It was a cheery family occasion, most enjoyable to share in. We got to Cala del Pinar beach, so that Clare could have a swim as it began to cool down in the evening, and ate a light salad supper afterwards - all we had room for after generous servings of an excellent local variation on the dish, served by the proprietor, who also kindly gave us access to the chapel earlier and made sure we had the microphones we needed, and knew how to operate them. A day to remember with appreciation, that's for sure.

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