In this part of the world, the church has a terrible habit of encouraging our folks to take the summer off from church. It’s true. We may mot say it overtly, but think of all the messages we send. Often churches change summer worship hours (until last summer ours was one of them), programming is cut back or all together eliminated, choirs take the summer of off, coffee hours are cut back or eliminated, no meetings, no bible studies, no activity. Then we have have services after Labour Day with catchy names like, “Gathering Sunday,” “Home Coming Sunday,” “Start Up Sunday,” and the non-apologetic “Welcome Back Sunday!” It’s as if we put a sign on the door in the last Sunday in June that read’s “Be Back in 9 Weeks!”
The Feast of St Aidan is on August 31st. Each year we commemorate the patron of our church on the Sunday nearest to that day. It’s been a little lackluster in the past because… well it falls in the summer. Sadly St Aidan did not have the good sense to die after Labour Day weekend to make it more convenient on us postmodern Christians. But this year was different. This year we made a conscious effort to go ahead and plan a Patronal Festival. We planned a baptism for you Heathcliff Sheen, we planned a pot luck lunch after church, we ordered the biggest bouncy castle I have ever seen, we put on games for the kids, we had t Aidan himself come by for a visit. Morning church was terrific. People came. The church was ‘open for business’ and it was a ‘Blockbuster Sunday.’ We were celebrating the Celtic Bishop whose pilgrim ministry has oozed down through the centuries to shape the practice of how our community in the Northwest corner of London does church. Surely a Festival Sunday would require more than a couple of hours on a Sunday Morning. There had to be more. So we planned an evening concert in the back yard. We booked a great Bluegrass band called Kevin’s Bacon Train, who covered everything from Pink Floyd, to Guns and Roses, to The Tragically Hip, to the Bangles. Iain Stevenson a Youth from our parish rocked our yard with great music including Ed Sherran. Anima blessed us with Latin music. We toasted St Aidan, we danced, we sang, we ate, we celebrated as a parish should. And people came!
Seeing our seniors, our children, our millennials, our gen Xers, our baby-boomers and our seniors dancing together in the back yard with so much joy in the hearts as the sun set on a beautiful summer day in late August was a real gift to this priest. I looked out at everyone Sunday night and quietly prayed – “Thank you God!”
Carrol Belanger is a Warden at St Aidan’s. She is in her first year gaining experience as she goes. She took the lead on this event and planned a wonderful day. Thank you Carrol for your work! You made a great day for so many people on Sunday. You had a great support from Morgan Sherlock and together you recruited a great troop of volunteers. Thank you to all who helped and all who attended. It was the first of many at St Aidan’s.
You can see the Preaching, Baptism of Heathcliff, and some of the after fun on this video