Kirk Braddan

The Vicar's Letter

From the November issue of Branch, the Kirk Braddan parish magazine

Well, another year has passed with another enormously successful fireworks display (and potentially the biggest bonfire we could physically fit on the hill, though I'm sure we'll manage to make it slightly bigger next year…).

Children, replete with neon flashing plastic toys and sodium metabisulphite 'ooh' and 'ahh' on an evening that they will hopefully remember as one of community, cheering and just general all-round niceness.

Adults, divested of their cash, will look back with fondness (we hope) on an evening that reminded them of the times they experienced these things as children: jacket potatoes by the bonfire, treacle toffee and parkin while wearing woolly hats.

The creation of lasting memories which people take away from our Light the Night event was one aim we hoped to achieve. There were those of us who loved those times of autumn and when I arrived on the island it was sad to hear there wasn't anything like that round here. So we started it.

Now, it's grown to hundreds of people squashed on the car park loving every minute of it. And these things will be remembered because of it.

But that was just one aim extra to the point of Light the Night. It began primarily as a way to have an alternative to the grimness of Halloween (a Christian festival anyway!) by restoring the joy of All Saints' Day, when we see the Church for what it is: a gathering of God's children wanting to share their love of the Kingdom with those who may not yet have come to recognise it. That message could easily be lost amid the evening, when children are playing about and adults are chatting away, all waiting for the countdown for the fireworks. But two things happened this year which show the message has gotten out: someone on Facebook asked why we did it on the 1st November. The answer came from someone outside our community who simply said "Because it's All Saints' Day." Thank you, that man.

Secondly, when the crowds were dispersing a woman asked the same question and when I replied, her family responded with a cheer that we were doing something to remind an easily-led world that there is more out there than we sometimes realise. Thank you, that woman.

And so it was more than a little reassuring to find that something has been achieved by what we set out to do: someone not of our number - and outside our efforts - joining with us in helping others to understand what the Church is about; and then wider members of the community finding the joy of the Kingdom genuinely inspiring.

We could never claim it was our own efforts for that, we just responded to what God called us to do. So thank you to everyone who responded to that call, even if you didn't realise who was behind everything in the first place. Because if God hadn't called us to do it, it would have just been woolly hats by a fire, and not something more beautiful instead.