Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Lost Opportunities


On Easter Sunday for the first time in years I was not needed on music at church or was not committed elsewhere with family activities. As a result my husband and I took ourselves down to Ulladulla for the Blessing of the Fleet.  This event sprang up because of the importance of the harbour and the many resident Italian fishermen of Ulladulla’s fishing industry. Each year the local priest blesses the fishermen and prays for their safety on the water and for good catches. The Blessing of the Fleet Festival has been going since 1956.

 
It includes market stalls, beach games, music and bands, car displays and a parade of floats as well as the actual blessing ceremony and  followed by fireworks in the evening.

We arrived early before streets were closed to set up for the parade, which passes along the main street and circles around back to the harbour. God was certainly smiling on the day as it was warm and sunny.

Around 20-30 floats participated. Here are photos we took of a few.

 as well as pipe bands, police and other rural community services. Each float has a princess chosen from year 10 girls at the local high schools.  There is a competition for the best float. Hours and hours of time and work would have gone into coming up with a theme then designing and creating them, making costumes and decking out the floats.  Interestingly a number of floats were based on Disney movies like The Littlest Mermaid, Frozen, Tangled, Snow White, and Pocahontas.


Apart from the actual blessing service run by the priests from the Catholic church, an art show set up in the hall of the Anglican church and their normal Easter Sunday church service changed time so it finished before the parade, the others churches, to the best of my knowledge, seemed to have little input into the event, which I thought was a shame. Even the blessing service was kept fairly short though it did include the national anthem, a hymn, call to worship a gospel reading and a prayer.

Thousands of people from near and far, even some even from overseas come to this Festival each year. I couldn’t help thinking how great it would it have been to see the churches combine or at least some of the churches individually, embrace this festival more and set up a float focusing on the real Easter story.  Perhaps their priorities were elsewhere but I saw it as a lost opportunity to be part of the community and at the same time tell people of the real Easter story. What a witness it could have been to the people watching the parade. As well as a float, those taking part could have handed out bibles or tracts, presetting the gospel message. They could have had Christian bands playing on the stages set up around the area.

But before I  became too critical, I had to stop and ask myself how often do  I let opportunities slip because it is all too hard or involves a  lot of work? Maybe you do too?

 Last week our minister asked a couple of us I we could organise a skit or special item for the mother’s day service. My initial reaction was to think, ‘Oh too hard. I’m not in a creative frame of mind lately.  I can’t be bothered.’ Sound familiar?

It's a while since I've done anything like that.  Then I remembered the festival and knew how easy it easy to criticise and then not to do anything ourselves.

My initial negative thoughts were quickly followed by,’ but I have a daughter and son-in- law involved in children’s and youth ministry. They may have something. It wouldn’t be hard to get hold off.’ So I texted my daughter and sure enough, she did have a skit designed for mother’s day.  I had a look and decided with a bit of adapting I could do something with it.

The result is my husband and I have looked at it and adapted it to work as a two person skit, mainly because we always work better together and bolster each other's confidence. The theme is while mums love us, God loves us even more. He showed this by sending His Son to die for us.

I admit to feeling a bit nervous about the upcoming talk. It’s been a while since I have got up to speak at an event. It’s much easier for me to get up and sing.  I’m sure there will be time devoted to practicing the lines before the day so that it goes okay. Even so we know we cannot do it without the Lord’s help. So we will plough ahead to next Sunday praying that the Lord blesses the venture and blesses others because of it.

All of us have times where we have lost opportunities and others where opportunities were taken. I’d love to hear from any of you who have capitalised on an opportunity God sent your way even if it did require a lot of effort or you didn’t really feel like doing it initially.
Dale writes fiction, poetry and children’s fiction, and has written bible studies and Sunday school lessons. More information about Dale can be found at www.daleharcombe.com or on her Write and Read with Dale blog http://www.livejournal.com/users/orangedale/
 
 
 

14 comments:

  1. Great post. It is too easy to let opportunities slip through our fingers instead of finding a way to do them.

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    1. It is indeed Melissa. Thanks for commenting.

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  2. I really resonated with your post, Dale, as I have been invited to speak at a church service on Mothers' Day too--a day when I would probably prefer just to relax and enjoy the company of family! Then the following weekend, I am giving three sessions at a women's retreat. It's something I love doing, but just right now, I would much prefer to be getting on with my current writing project! Yet, I think God has given me these opportunities, so I will take them. As a little old nun said to me once, we might never pass this way again.

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    1. Sounds like I struck a chord Jo-Anne. Sometimes hard to know what we should be doing though. Hope yours goes well.

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  3. Hi Dale, missed opportunities abound for the writer if we are not careful and prayerful so this is a good reminder. I had loads to do on Sunday and I was so tempted to stay home, but had promised my neighbour I would take her to church. She ended up not feeling well and being unable to come, but it was a good reminder to be available to opportunities to share and bless others.

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    1. A good reminder. Thanks Catherine.

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  4. Hi Dale,
    What a wonderful Easter Pageant. I'd never heard of it, but the photos remind me of our Adelaide Christmas Pageant, which is said to be the biggest in the southern hemisphere. A blessing of the fleet at Ulladulla. It would be beautiful to attend.
    Your observation resonated with me too. The opposite is saying yes to everything, I suppose. Sometimes we do need to pass up opportunities, but it can easily become a habit. Good on you for going for this one. I hope it goes really well.

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    1. Thanks Paula. Yes I agree, saying yes to all can be just as much a problem. We need to be discerning.

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  5. Unless we are somehow involved in such events the less relevant the local church appears. Whilst not over impressed by the concept of blessing the Fleet we should try and seize the opportunities they afford to make a statement about the grace of God and promote the work of the Church. Trouble is, who has the incentive, the motivation, the expertise to head it up and rally folk around to bring it to reality. Oh the gap between the ideal and the reality!

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    1. Guess that is always the thing- always a gap between the ideal and reality

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  6. Dale, great post! I must admit I'm saying no a lot at the moment. There just aren't enough hours in the day to do everything. I'd rather do fewer things well, than do a whole raft of activities that are half baked. It's encouraging to hear that a couple of your local churches are playing a central role in a major community event.

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    1. Ulladulla is quite a bit further south than us. Of course we can always do more. It's knowing when to say yes and when to say no.

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  7. Thanks, Dale for the challenge. Like Narelle says whatever is done should never be a half-baked presentation. And that wonderful parade could well be used as a special outreach.

    I pray you and your husband will be used by the Lord this Mothers' Day. George & I are also involved in a art/message presentation this coming Sunday. When a Christian wholly gives of themselves they are blessed in return.

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    1. Thanks Rita. We need that prayer. Reasons why will be explained in another blog later.

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