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Newsletter April 2009

Easter in Belfast  


All the adverts here use the word Easter seemingly synonymous with the concept of Spring.  The tourist magazine has “Be Inspired” advertising attractions around town but few sacred sites or Christian events.  The Easter adverts and attractions involve bunnies, colored eggs, and flowers.  This surprised us in such an apparently religious Christian country.  We didn’t see any special concerts of The Messiah or Easter programs as they had at the big churches at Christmas time.

It was however more religious in our community where culture was frozen for 30 years.  In our neighborhood the churches were active with extra gatherings during holy week.  Street evangelists were out on the Shankill Road passing out gospel leaflets.  Our church opened and staffed

a prayer room on Monday and Tuesday evenings.  Wednesday evening we attended a joint worship service for five churches and on Good Friday we went to the neighboring church for a lunch time worship service and then had an evening worship service in our own church.

Even within the protestant churches the focus seems to be predominantly on the suffering of Jesus, the passion, the sacrifice.  When I asked our minister if the Easter service would be more crowded, he said probably not.  We got a few extras people visiting their families and a few went for a holiday so he was right.  For us Easter resurrection is the center of our faith.  Without the resurrected Jesus the Christ, faith is meaningless, dead, just another moral code, but with it the world can be restored.  But what didn't we communicate with our presents of chocolate eggs?

School was off for two weeks and all businesses are closed for four days on Easter weekend.  They call it Easter Monday and Easter Tuesday.  We didn’t go to the school or to classes, so with the extra time we took a bus trip to County Donegal with friends from the church, took in a drama at the Opera House with the class from the Shankill Women’s Centre, and visited and contacted some extra people.  We are personally refreshed by the celebration of the living Christ and the break from our routine.

Spring here means April showers, so we survived the March winds.  The days are longer and daylight savings time gave another boost.  Daffodils are blooming everywhere from bulbs dormant in the ground all winter.  We prepare for a visit from our son Jerem and his roommate Conor, and later this summer from Alaina.

What follows is a list of the little reminders that we are in a orderly world influenced by a God that loves us.  God’s providence continues when we put off calling Rev Hamilton because it was a Monday, traditional minister’s day off, and we ran into him at the Tesco.  Marda learned to deal with the impediments of British regulations.  The result was new car insurance for half the price.  Yes!  Unknown to us until several days later, Dorothy was compelled to pray for us on the same evening that I was negotiating this problem.  This stirred in me the thought for a trip to visit the Francolinos in Romania to investigate Dorothy’s dream to help the children. 

The Shankill Women’s Centre continues to be a treasure of info and connections.  Ward is in a walking club and Belfast history course.  Marda joined “Epilogues” an interactive exploration of the underlying causes of the Troubles.  Since returning from California, Ward is delivering the prayer of intercession at the Sunday morning services.  Some new opportunities are in the formulation stage.  More to come.

Remember Alison, the women who we encouraged to come back to the church?  She came!

Email: wardstothers@cten.org
New Phone: (028) 90 291986  From US 01144.2890.291986

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