Marking time.

The new peal board

There is a decidedly damp feel to today, and it seems to have been almost dark from early afternoon, but we are in late November…..

Just a few days now until the beginning of Advent, and the time draws on to Advent calendars, candles and the rest of the ways in which we count down to Christmas Day - four weeks away today.

Looking at it from a different perspective we are marking time not only in striking days off, but by considering the providential time; the right time; the moment that we have been waiting for. There is plenty in the Scriptures that encourages us to think in these terms, and bring us to the realisation of the greatness of the gift of Christ to a people deep in need of new direction and hope. History has repeated itself many times, but the coming of the Son of God has brought eternal life once and for all-time and for all people.

Time brings other matters to our attention, as the Brexit negotiations continue in their tortuous way, and our heartfelt prayers for guidance are part of out daily devotion; events in the lead-up to Christmas in Churches and Community are becoming energised and advertised; and, more specifically for our thoughts and prayers today, we have heard that the URC in Swanage have appointed a new minister - which is very exciting and encouraging - and there are many other things to consider and bring to our devotions.

This Sunday another reminder of time spent is going to be acknowledged, by the bellringers of St Mary’s Church, as a new peal board is to be dedicated at the 10.30 a.m. service. What is a peal board, you may well ask? It is a permanent record, painted on a wooden panel and hung in the tower of the church, that records information about a particular peal that was rung. They are produced on rare occasions, and St Mary’s have some which are quite old.

A peal takes about three hours and they are generally rung to mark a particular milestone. Hence, for a royal occasion, or perhaps something special for the town, or the Church or the nation. The eight ringers that manage the feat, which involves physical stamina as well as mental concentration, are all noted by name. This particular peal was rung on the occasion of my installation in Swanage on 21st September last year. I was, and am, deeply honoured by this kind thought. Thank you so much!

John Mann