Minister's Christmas hit gets whole town dancing
Published on 22 December, 2016
In the second of our end of year reflections, Rev Neil Urquhart from Fullarton Church in Irvine explains how he created the 'Are Ye Wise' multimedia campaign to celebrate everyday acts of kindness and sacrifice in Irvine, in a fantastic ecumenical initiative which got the whole town dancing.
"It’s been quite a year! In January, walking Polo (black labrador) on Irvine Beach, the song for ‘Are Ye Wise!?’ (AYW) surfaced as a few notes and lines. After four months of beach walks, and odd looks from seagulls and other dog-walkers, the dance and song were nearly there. Since then hours of hard work from many (mainly volunteers) have gone into the AYW project, to bring it to the 4 short films through which thousands of people in Irvine, Scotland and throughout the world, are sharing and celebrating ‘The True Light of Christmas’, demonstrated in every day acts of kindness and sacrificial service.
Colleagues and parishioners ask where I get the time and energy to orchestrate something like AYW, over and above the responsibilities of being a husband, dad, parish minister, active member of Presbytery, sportsman and sports chaplain. Honest answer is ‘I haven’t a clue!’ but, like sport, it energises me as a pastor, preacher and enabler of others. I have a dream job! Activism, Worshipand Service are my top three spiritual pathways, I love connecting with people of all situations and backgrounds, and my mission statement is ‘to share the love of Jesus in my community, make disciples, and help people take steps closer to Jesus’. Are Ye Wise is one expression of this.
But, less of me and more about Jesus! Nativity Plays help us to remember Jesus Christ and The Son of God’s birth, but all too easily the focus is on ‘past’ not ‘Present’: God with us in the here and now, come to save and shine through us. AYW has got Irvine people talking about the good and excellent things people are doing for each other, with the local papers and radio station among those helping. For those, with faith and the gift to recognise Jesus at work in such acts of sacrificial service, we are inspired to let Jesus’ love shine through us in down-to-earth ways. Others, for whom God is distant (if at all), can sense something / someone other than themselves, to whom they’re drawn. Through AYW our hope and prayer is that people will be drawn to Jesus, 'the true light that lightens everyone', now coming into the world, through people’s loving, caring and sharing. For example: two different Irvine couples are in touch, one offering a Christmas day meal forfor pensioners and the other ready to assist in delivering Christmas gifts to families in our area.They’re reaching out and, pray God, they’ll recognise Jesus reaching out for them in and through their kindness.
‘Weird', 'What on earth are these guys up to!?', ‘Awesome!', 'Absolutely Brilliant!' are some of the comments posted on Facebookand You Tube after viewing our videos. Sure, some wish they could ‘unsee’ the video! While not taking ourselves too seriously, Father Willie (Roman Catholic), Rev Tendai (Baptist) and myself pray that beyond the bafflement, smiles and laughter, people will be drawn irresistibly to The Christ, come to save us and switch the lights on in our hearts, and further, through us to lighten the lives of those we live, walk, and work with. Shine on!"