14th April, 2012…

Coming atcha today from a quick lunch stop in Titanic Belfast (thanks, free wifi!)

The big day is well underway with another sellout day at Titanic Belfast; I hear from Colin that the Walking Tours are booked solid with visitors from the cruise ships berthed in Belfast this weekend.  I’ve just seen Robert Ballard (who found Titanic’s resting place back in 1985) and Eric Kuhne (who created the Titanic Quarter masterplan and designed Titanic Belfast) having a bite of lunch.  The cafe staff are pedal-to-the-metal.

And in the midst of it all, one unique, wonderful, precious thing the church can offer is – space.  And peace.  And time to reflect, and pray.  A chance to take the pedal off the metal and allow God to speak in the midst of the melee, and the rush of emotions that often comes with it.

And so I could genuinely not be more thrilled with the way things have worked out for The Dock over these past few weeks and the spaces which have become available in the heart of all this activity.  A minute’s walk away down the road, Dock Cafe is open for business; Tegan and Ruth and Sarah are providing cuppas and scones and comfy sofas and quiet corners and inspiring art and chillout space to a steady stream of footsore visitors and laid-back locals.

And right here at Titanic Belfast, the staff have allowed one of the little ‘booths’ right beside the building to become a Prayer Room for the weekend – more comfy chairs, more coffee, and a chance for people who have been moved by Titanic’s story to approach God through prayer or quiet.

So it feels as if all the pieces are in place.  There are spaces to encounter God.  There are timetables to mark the times and moments of 100 years ago – like the vigil here at Titanic Belfast tonight, which will mark 11:40pm with darkness, lanternlight, choral voices and names read aloud in remembrance.  (these pics are of the rehearsal last night – incredible how atmospheric Titanic Belfast is with the lights down low!)

And if you would like to be part of the commemoration, I should highlight – along with all the superb events in the Big List I printed on the blog yesterday – the service at St Anne’s Cathedral/pilgrimage walk/Drawing Offices on Sunday afternoon at 3:30pm.  It’s been an immense privilege to be part of putting all the elements of the service together, a shared effort between The Dock, St Anne’s Cathedral and Titanic Belfast.  Events will begin at the Cathedral at 3:30pm with a service containing many aspects of the service which was held there 100 years ago in the immediate aftermath of the Titanic tragedy.  Then at 4:30 we will walk from the cathedral to the Titanic Quarter (hmm, whose idea was that I wonder…?), to balance the remembrance of the past with the hope for the future we see on our city streets.  Then at 5:30pm, having reached the H&W Drawing Offices in the shadow of Titanic Belfast, we will conclude with a short service involving worship and reflections from the full ‘Shared Medley’ of traditions.

Join us at any stage for any part – or live a little, get out of your sofa on a Sunday afternoon, on this most profoundly significant weekend for our city, and join us for all three!