This is my 2006 e-mail prayer letter. If you would like a copy with photographs (not of me!) and contact details, please leave a comment!
Well, 2006 has been an interesting year to say the least.
Highlights of the year included the ever-present Summer Madness, where I spent the main event running what will probably be the last year of the cinema (you heard it here first!) and doing a bit of security.
I also did a pile of photography for Streetreach, especially on the special Monday afternoon at the CityCemetery – what felt like dozens of photographs from the City Cemetery made it onto the Streetreach 2006 DVD, which is more than a little scary.
This wasn’t my first photographic commitment of the year. I also spent the Global Day of Prayer 2006 doing photography – alas, due to ongoing problems with my computer burning CD-ROMs I wasn’t able to pass them on, which was very disappointing. Still, there’s always 2007.
To help that, I bought a new Digital SLR last week. My old camera has served me very well, but I’d got as much use out of it as I was ever going to, and I needed a better camera to get better shots. Several times during Streetreach, I found myself taking blurry pictures because I couldn’t get the shutter speed fast enough – not a problem with the new camera!
In the autumn I took on the coordination of the band for evening worship at the Church of the Resurrection. A fairly easy job, I led once a month and played bass the other weeks, inbetween generating weekly powerpoint presentations – otherwise I made sure that whichever of my three fellow worship leaders was happy, leaving them to agree the order of service with Paddy and arrange a band. It looks like we’ll have other bassists in the spring, which is as well as I’ll not have somewhere to stay every Sunday night after my grandma moves to Bangor. I’ve therefore handed coordination on to one of the other worship leaders – Luke will do an excellent job, he has the necessary humility and heart for worship.
I’ve really enjoyed evening services, working with a band that doesn’t change that much from week to week, but getting chances to play my main instrument (piano) when I can, encouraging other band members, teaching new songs, introducing new chunks of liturgy, praying through the whole shape of services, and so on. Sunday mornings have been more frustrating, as there are so many fewer opportunities, one of my long term frustrations – chances to play piano are almost non-existent, and I’m not really able to contribute effectively as a result. The frustration will increase in the Spring when I am less involved in the evenings.
I also played bass on Sunday mornings, including the autumn highlight of our Radio Ulster broadcast service on 26th November. I arranged three of the songs for piano, flute, violin and horn, and had the pleasure of listening to them work, both live and in the CD recording made live – although I have to confess that I probably overdid Blessing and Honour. Still… it was incredible. I also had the loan of compression and distortion pedals for the service, and listening back, they worked perfectly.
As a spin-off from the service, the Church is selling CDs as a fundraiser towards the refurbishment we had carried out in 2005. If you’d like to buy one, let me know… they’re £2 if I can hand-deliver them or you can collect them from the Church of Ireland Centre, or £2.50 if I have to post them (£3 via Paypal to cover their fees!). At least £1 will go to the church.
Spring Harvest 2006 had its own challenges. I was leading a team for the first time, and promptly messed up. One member of my team had to be sent home due to illness, and I had a severe personality clash with the other member of my team. In the end, I asked to give up being a Team Leader, and spent the rest of the weekend as a one-man team under the authority of whichever other teams were on duty in a given venue. There are limits to my abilities, for those of you who don’t already know!
I have continued to be involved in www.theweeprayerroomthing.org. As I write, we’re planning a venue change in January, but we have met each week except during the summer to pray for Belfast and each other. Special expeditions have included Slieve Croob (the source of the Lagan) one Saturday morning with some others who have been praying for Belfast, and a prayer and worship chalet in the Continental Market at BelfastCity Hall with www.revive-ni.co.uk in the last few weeks. We also ran a prayer room with worship sessions over St Patrick’s weekend.
In October, I helped Peter King with lights at Autumn Soul again. This was my tenth Autumn Soul, which has become a regular highlight of my year, meeting with people I rarely see between one October and the next.
I wrote last year about Becky. We did sort things out when she came over for New Year, but it didn’t last and we broke up after the red roses arrived on Valentine’s Day. I had known it was coming, but it didn’t make it any easier.
The ten months since have been a struggle. In Becky I found the first woman who ever loved me as I had loved her, which was amazing after all the pain I had been through in the previous twelve years with past girlfriends. Coping with being single since then has been the largest thing in my life this year; some days it is easier, but so often I struggle, missing having someone solely human to share life with, all the joys, all the sorrows of daily life, being there when a friend was needed, having someone there for me.
What holds me together is the knowledge that God is with me, and has great plans for me. My frustrations are holding me back at the moment, with my baggage of many years of pain that I have great trouble letting go of, and being faced with situations which I am powerless to change and just leave me fumbling along aimlessly.
For 2007… I don’t know what’s coming really. Signs are that I should be watching very closely to see what God will be doing, because it looks very exciting for NI and Ireland – so keep praying for that.
My prayer points for this year are:
- That God will fill the empty void in my heart. No matter how often I ask, this one keeps getting the answer “not yet”, even though I know only God can fill it
- That I will keep trusting God. I’m in no doubt about this one, because God is my only hope.
- That I will get my chances to do the things I love: to be a musician, a worshipper, a problem solver, and to love the one God has chosen for me. Whoever she may be.
Well, as I finish this letter, it’s 1.30am on Christmas morning and I need to wrap presents and go to bed, having been to Midnight Communion at Ballyholme.
Whatever else you might say about Christmas, and I usually say “Bah humbug!” until the end of November, it’s still the day we celebrate the fact that Jesus, who is and always has been wholly divine, was born wholly human. It’s amazing.
God bless, Happy Christmas (with apologies for the lack of a card – let’s pretend I’m saving the environment!) and all the best for 2007.