Whitchester Christian Centre was a lovely, welcoming and relaxed venue for our church weekend away. Eighteen of us gathered there including Andrea’s dogs, Claude, Trixie and Ted. The sun was shining on our arrival and we enjoyed tea and home baking outside with wonderful views of the surrounding hills. We were very well fed over the weekend with meal times shared around a very large table, which could seat the whole group! After settling into our new surroundings and enjoying our first meal there together, Marie provided two games, which entertained us & tested our acting skills!
The spiritual theme of the weekend was how we meet with God in different ways including through scripture, hospitality, our senses and through sharing with each other. We used the scripture reading of the walk to Emmaus as a focus for reflection and discussion: how the two disciples walked along the road, accompanied by whom they thought was a stranger & whom they only recognised as being Jesus when he broke bread.
There was also plenty of free time for the more energetic among us to explore the country paths leading from the hotel. Sunday afternoon walkers returned dripping wet but quite exhilarated after a climbing to a trig point with very misty views into the far distance. Others visited the interesting nearby Border town of Hawick & discovered some of its history including a walk along the old railway line and in the riverside park. Those who felt like being crafty, created collages linked with the weekend in the very well-equipped craft room. As well as enjoying fellowship, there was also time to read, relax and sleep!
A highlight on Saturday evening was hot footing it to the nearby hill to watch many horse riders, young and old, passing by on their return to Hawick after their annual 26-mile route Riding the Marches around the local area. It was an exciting sight to see them manoeuvring their way down the steep slope and then galloping past where we were standing, as we waved and cheered them on their way.
The folk of St Cuthbert’s Episcopal Church in Hawick welcomed us to their service on Sunday morning. St Cuthbert’s is a beautiful old church with lovely banners and stained glass windows, some only installed in recent years. Though only a small Christian community, we sensed the faith and commitment present there.
Sunday evening we watched the third part of the film ‘Pilgrimage – a journey to Rome’, culminating in the arrival in Rome of a group of celebrities of different faiths and none. The pilgrimage was important for each one and the sense of encouragement and support they received from each other was tangible. Unexpectedly & amazingly they were given the opportunity to meet with Pope Francis who showed great humility and compassion in the exchanges he had with each person. It was a very moving end to the film.
While we were still sitting together after the film, Andrea was presented with the gift of a lovely photo book compiled by Robert, marking the past two years of her ministry with us.
Monday morning we shared in a Eucharist led by Andrea in Whitchester’s peaceful chapel and then after breakfast we said our thanks and farewells to our hosts and to each other as we went our separate ways home.
A big thank you to Liz who planned the weekend together with help from Andrea & Helen, also to George & Gordon who provided music, Marie for her games, and Robert & Robert for all the technical help behind the scenes. Thank you to all who came & contributed to a blessed & memorable weekend.