I went home at the weekend and it turned into a memorable trip for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the purpose of the trip was to fulfil an appointment made 18 months ago to preach at the 75th anniversary of The Grove Methodist Chapel. Previously I`ve preached on their 50th and their 60th so I feel as though I`m in a pattern! I challenged them to invite me back for their Centenary when I`ll be 80! We`ll see what happens. The Grove is the small village next door to where I grew up and en-route to my school, so much of my childhood was spent there. Nana also lived in the Grove as did other relatives; it was where I played my first football match for the Boys Brigade, in mud (and my first Boys Brigade officer, Harold Binks, was in the congregation); where I cut through the woods to get home and they seemed much bigger then. The memories came flooding back.
The photograph is of my home town of Consett taken from the hill above my Dads house. If you know where to look you can spot The Grove Chapel as well as Consett town centre where my home Chapel lies. Consett is, and always will be, a very special place for me. Its unlikely that I`ll ever return to live there (simply because so much of my life is now in the East Midlands) but it will always be dear to me; I`m a Consett lad through and through and although many address me as a Geordie the truth is I`m a Consettonian. Consett, a small ex-steel town, and its residents has forged me into the person I am today. The Chapel had its Christmas Fayre while we were there and, apart from stopping for the bacon butty, I spent the entire morning catching up with friends who have been a part of my life and an influence upon it.
The second special thing about the weekend was the opportunity to catch up with someone who I haven’t seen in many years. She has always been in my prayers and thanks to the miracle of FaceBook we were able to get in touch earlier this year, but the weekend was the first chance to actually speak face to face. It was a wonderful, special moment. FaceBook may have its critics, and often rightly so, but it also raises the opportunities for relationship building. Like everything else in life if its used properly its a powerful social tool.
Thirdly, we travelled with our good friends Alison and Stuart, so it was an opportunity to `show off` the town. We also went to Durham Cathedral where a replica of the Cathedral is being built in Lego bricks. Anyone who truly knows me knows of my love of Lego, so I simply had to go and see it. Sadly, at the moment my blog won`t allow me to insert the photograph of the Lego Cathedral, but if I get the chance later I`ll add it. The whole project is to raise money for the work of the Cathedral. I wonder “does this now mean I can put `Cathedral builder` onto my CV?”
Fourthly, and most importantly of all it gave me a chance to have the weekend with my hero, Dad. Those who know me well will be fully aware of how much I love him and admire him, so it was a special bonus to be able to take him with us to Durham, for a drink on the evening and for lunch the following day. A wicked sense of humour, a sparkle in his eye and thats all I need to know he`s well. I hope I`m that good when I`m his age.