CANON BOB WHITE: Faith is not something we can live in isolation

Canon Bob White as the dame in the St Mary's Parish pantomime 2017
Canon Bob White as the dame in the St Mary's Parish pantomime 2017
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The vicar of St Mary’s Church, Fratton on a very busy week for the church

People talk of things being like buses – you wait ages for one, then three or four all come along at once.

Sometimes life can be like that, it has certainly felt that way in St Mary’s parish in Fratton.

This week, as well as being half-term, has seen three significant events of very different styles.

First of all we marked Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, with an evening of pancake races, music, dancing, and Caribbean food provided by members of our community.

It was a fun evening (even if I didn’t win the clergy race) and it was good to see people of every age and background enjoying being together – from a few days old to over 80.

Then on Wednesday we marked the start of Lent with services for Ash Wednesday.

Again, people of all ages came to have the sign of the cross made on their heads with some ash.

The symbolism is that without God and the life he gives us, we are empty.

The lunchtime service was followed by a soup lunch raising money for the Bishop’s Lent Appeal and, as with the previous evening, there was a buzz of folks chatting, laughing and sharing together.

Now we’re focusing on the third event, which is the Parish Pantomime.

We will be performing Babes in the Wood at St Wilfrid’s Church, in George Street, on Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Tickets are available on the door.

I will dust down the Dame’s wig and frocks and frantically try to remember my lines.

People often ask ‘why do you do it?’The answer is that, as with the other two events of the week, it brings together people of all ages and backgrounds.

The cast and backstage crew range from six year olds to those over 70. There is a great sense of working together as well as a lot of laughter – not least as we try to master box steps.

Throughout this week I have been reminded that the life of faith is not something we can live in isolation or cut off from the world.

It is about how we seek to be faithful to the God who gives us life and doing that in the company of others. It is about being a community which laughs, prays, eats, dances, worships – and even box steps together.

St Mary’s Church is in Fratton Road, Fratton. Go to portseaparish.co.uk