Page 10 - 6 July - Final
P. 10

ONE SUNDAY IN MAY

     In May, Bryan and I fulfilled a
     long-held ambition to travel on
     the Hurtigruten coastal voyage
     up the coast of Norway, north
     to the Russian border and
     back south again. One Sunday
     we found ourselves in Horstad
     and visiting the church at
     Trondenes.

     There has been a church on
     this site since the 12th century
     and the church is unusual in
     that it is a stone church in a
     country where most of the
     churches were built of wood.
     It was built as a fortress church
     with a thick, high wall around it.
     Only parts of this wall still
     remain.

     Although it is now a Lutheran
     church it still has many of its impressive Catholic decorations from before the
     Reformation including a beautiful painted pulpit. It has had a chequered
     history but has a very peaceful and welcoming atmosphere.

     We were greeted by the pastor, a young man with a blonde ponytail, who
     welcomed us all and conducted a short ecumenical service in four languages
     – Norwegian, English, German and French. He led us in the 23rd Psalm, the
     Lord`s Prayer and the hymn Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. We all prayed
     and sang in our own languages and the pastor slipped between the
     languages with great ease.

     After the service he answered all our questions and was very happy to show
     off the church. There is a small lake very near the church where it is
     suggested the early Christians were baptised by full immersion. As it is well
     inside the Arctic Circle I can imagine that the clergy of the time may well have
     met with some reluctance by the converts to be baptised.

     In the grounds outside there is a very touching memorial to the 1,531 sailors
     who were lost when three ships went down on 8th June 1940. HMS Glorious
     was an aircraft carrier and Ardent and Acasta were her escorts. We were
     there on a calm, sunlit but chilly day and it was difficult to imagine such a
     horror taking place in the waters nearby. As I celebrate my birthday this year
     I will pause and reflect.



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