It's three years since we last had a race season and so far this year we've had a mixed blessing.
Nervousness around how the event would go ahead clung on for many months until it became clear that the Island would have just as many visitors as usual, eager to get here to support one of motorsport's biggest championships.
But while that nervousness may have abated, there was still the anxiety of how to provide – and what to provide – in a world significantly different from 2019. Especially in attitude: how anxious would visitors and residents be regarding prospective illness? (and I write as someone who inevitably came down with Covid after TT!); would there be enough volunteers; would there be reluctance from visitors, and all other questions.
None of which seemed to come to fruition. Our hospitality at Kirk Braddan was revelled in by thousands of people in the same ways it always has been. But this time we had more, and they provided an atmosphere and presence which truly was one of the best we’ve ever experienced.
The gratitude shown by so many – especially those coming for the first time – was especially welcome. But to see so many familiar faces who see us as 'their' church, even when they don't live here, is a truly humbling thing.
To be loved for simple existing, and doing our best to care for those who come here, is one of life's – and the Kingdom's – greatest blessings. And one we receive with great thanks.
Which is why I extend my personal thanks to two groups of people: those who visited here this summer (and to those yet to visit during MGP, all being well), who supported this church in ways of community and friendship which are tremendous. New friendships were made and old ones were sustained in ways which remind us of how valued we are. Not simply as the ONLY venue on the Island which can cram 500 people indoors when it rains (!), but because of the offer we give of being a place of welcome.
Secondly, to those who give of their time, energy, inspiration and love in ways no-one else would understand. It's only if you've actually been here (and put the hours into what KB does during the races) that you could see how much effort is given by volunteers who simply want to see things go well. This is our congregation, their family, their friends, neighbours and acquaintances, who GIVE of themselves to make something excellent happen.
Thank you. You have all made Kirk Braddan a place dearly loved by so many.
I started this, however, by saying this year was a mixed blessing. And that is because of the indescribable sadness which takes place when racing goes wrong.
This year we suffered losses of life which can never be explored or mentioned without silence needing to follow. It is in these times we must remember the families and friends whose loved ones died doing what they loved, and to do that remembrance with the quietness it deserves. Many things could be said but sometimes too many things get said when they should not. When all we should offer is the kindness of space to those who need it.
We therefore hope and pray that MGP will not endure the sadness which TT did. We extend our love and prayers as always to all those taking part: that they go well, in safety, and in peace. And may the families of all who ride know of the love in which they are held.