The Strangford / Portaferry Ferry Choir

 

Tonight the Strangford/ Portaferry Ferry is lit up and the deck is a stage for choirs singing Carols.  Praise songs ring out over the Lough in the chilly, evening air.  School children and adults take part.  Drivers are entertained as they make their way home.

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At the ferry exit on each side of the Lough there is a mini Christmas Market.  I am at the Craft Fair with my Seaglass Mosaics.   John, my son is exhibiting his Bog Oak and Bronze.  We are hopeful for a successful evening.  It is a good opportunity to meet families from our community.

My mosaic collection began in May this year, after I picked up some green pieces of glass from the local beach.  I was inspired to make a picture of Ireland with a piece of Seaglass for each of the thirty two counties.  More inspiration has followed.  I enjoy the peace and results as I work.  I never dreamed I would be making mosaics, never mind selling some at a Craft Fair.  I believe The Holy Spirit gives me the inspiration.  He is the Creator.

I have visited the Christmas market in Bratislava.  It is full of Craft Stalls selling Christmas Fare.  It is a event where friends and families meet to have time together, sharing mulled wine and kebabs.  Eight of my family are there in Slovakia tonight!  From one Christmas Market to another, Ahoi!

I was excited to learn that the idea of Carol singing on the Ferry came from Vancouver, Canada.  I have been to the ferry terminal at Nanaimo and have travelled on the ferries to Seashelt and Vancouver Island.  My son Isaac is in Vancouver at the moment.

It all began fifty years ago with one boat decorated with Christmas lights.  Now fifty boats take part in the Carol Ships Parade of Lights.  It is a great attraction for visitors during the Christmas season in Vancouver.

The Ferry Crossing between Strangford and Portaferry is the oldest continuous ferry crossing in the world!  I can imagine Patrick and the early Christian settlers making the crossing back centuries ago in a wooden craft.  Our Ferry ship today is humble in comparison to the big ferries that dock in Nanaimo.

It is a wonderful experience to have a Christmas market and Choir Ferry so close to my home.  May this festival grow as the years pass and become a successful tourist event and attraction for Portaferry and Strangford.

Some information taken from an article in the Down Recorder, published on 2nd December.

Testimony Tuesday. Something Broken Made Into Something Beautiful

I have taken up a hobby of making mosaics from broken pieces of glass and pottery.

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One sunny morning in Springtime I went for a walk along the foreshore.  It is a stony beach.  I noticed pieces of green glass glistening among the pebbles.  They were looking at me inviting me to pick them up.  I picked one up, then another, and another until my pocket was full.  I felt like I was panning for gold in the stones of the shoreline.   Brendan joined me is my treasure hunt and he collected a pocket full too.  We collected other species, shades of blue, white, and brown.

I inspected them all when I returned home.  I asked myself what can I do with these colourful but broken pieces of glass.  The edges weren’t sharp any more and their colours were cloudy from the years of being broken and worn with the sea storms.  They had lost their shine.  Circumstances in life bring troubles, disappointments, lose or rejection leaving one worn down with the storms of life or relegated to the ash heap.

When washed and grim removed, my pieces of glass were ready to be positioned into something beautiful.

As I looked at the different shapes of green pieces I was inspired to make a mosaic of my country, Ireland, which has thirty two counties. I would use a piece of glass for each county.  I found a piece of wood and a tube full of tile filler.  So started my hobby of making mosaics.  I tried out putting other colours of glass together.  I find I relax as I work.

On Saturday I discovered a new site along the shoreline to build up my supply of broken pieces. I added to my collection, pieces of pottery.  I was excited to see how these pieces would clean up.  Some had blue willow patterns, some had plain colours.  How would they fit in to a mosaic?

As I worked I reminded myself how glass is made.  It is made from the common material, sand.  The sand is heated to 1700 degrees. Through the fire sand changes to become glass.  Pottery is made from clay, a common material.  The clay is treated in high temperatures to turn it to pottery.

The Word of God tells us that we were created by God.

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (‭Genesis‬ ‭2‬:‭7‬ NIV)

Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭64‬:‭8‬ NIV)

Sometimes when I go through difficult times I wonder what is happening to me.  This passage from Peter explains,

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (‭1 Peter‬ ‭4‬:‭12‬ NIV)

When I go though the fires of difficulty I am being transformed to be a useful vessel for The Lord, like the sand being transformed to glass or the clay to pottery.

The pieces of glass and pottery on the beach are all that remain of useful vessels.  Perhaps the blue glass was a beautiful perfume bottle or the piece of pottery, a treasured piece of willow patterned delph on a bride’s dresser.

But even after many years Our Creator God can reach down and touch all that remains of a broken vessel and make something new.  My mosaics speak to me of hope.  There is life after brokenness.  They can be displayed on a dresser again or adorn a bathroom wall and be a thing of beauty again.  God will restore lives again.