Parish letter from the May Newsletter
I love being busy - in all the psychological testing profiles one takes in training I always came out as a ‘red’ - one motivated by outcome and results. In that sense one could measure success and see an end-point. That profile sat well with my life as a teacher. When I left that life, my colleagues, half teasingly, used to say to me, ‘enjoy the quiet life ... you only have to get up on a Sunday morning from now on!’ and to some degree I think I know what they were thinking: if you only see the priest on a Sunday (morning) or regular point in the week or month, even as my mother in law asked me, people invariably ask, ‘what do you do all day?’ Well, let me tell you that April was busier than I could possibly have imagined which suited my ‘red’ psychological profile to some degree. But to a large extent, parish ministry doesn’t have fixed hours or end-points and to be honest some of the time I have felt frustrated by being tied to paper, this computer or my office. I have not had the time I like to spend out and about - such is the modern life of immediate email requests - which, I am told are now considered far too slow by my younger friends! - and then there’s the telephone and the doorbell!
I can tell you that the transition from side-kick Curate to Curate-alone has been very interesting! The Rector was no sooner out the door on his final Sunday at Bletchingley than one of the churchyard walls began to crumble there! Together with the weekly routines of Morning and Evening Prayer, baptisms, weddings and funerals, Sunday by Sunday commitments in two parishes, two schools, home communions, Coppice Lea care home, marriage preparation, two PCCs, sermons, and the MA study I’d like to re-discover(!) has meant life has been a bit of a whirlwind. What’s more is that those I mention are the fixed points in the diary and all bring with them the necessary preparation time - but what about the time to respond to the peoples’ needs - to be seen and even find time out?
In all of this busy-ness I have to be reminded of the importance of Sabbath rest - and understand why our beloved Rector needs his Sabbatical and time with his family. No one can prepare you for ‘going it alone’ in the parish, but this has been perhaps, the closest one can expect! Thank goodness for a Bank Holiday this month for time with family and friends and away from the computer and the phone. I know I am not alone in this sense of feeling all things to all people: have a look at http://theblogofkevin.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/i-am-the-vicar-i-am/
You will have noticed in that list of things I have been ‘doing’, one glaring omission - my family. The ones who bear the cost of my call and who give without counting the cost and who, as they invariably feel, are last at the end of a long list of others. I could not possibly do what God calls me into without them. Helen has moved house, changed her profile in the community and is often, literally, left holding the baby as I have to rush out to respond to something. I can see the wisdom of the kindness of a celibate priesthood when I see Helen putting into practice the advice we were given on our wedding day: love is a paradox and better received by being given away. And because ‘He who calls is faithful’ I know that God called me first to marriage and then to priesthood in that order and for a reason. So, in this month of Maying celebrate with me the women in our life who in my experience keep all things together. Thank God for the women in our lives who have passed on the faith to us and today as churchwardens - three of the four in the two parishes give testimony to this - the silent and unseen who make so much happen.
May is, of course, chiefly the month of Mary - the Mother of Our Lord and the patron of our church in Bletchingley. As HH John Paul II wrote in 1988, ‘in the hierarchy of holiness it is precisely the woman Mary of Nazareth, who is the 'figure' of the Church. She 'precedes' everyone on the path to holiness’ (Mulieris Dignitatem, 1988). May is the month to be mindful of Mary’s enabling call; her station as first disciple for she makes all salvation possible through her Son.
So my May message, if it could be said to be that, is two-fold - keep faith with God when you are so busy to remember the giver of time and the talents you spend; and secondly to give thanks to God for the women of faith who were never too busy in ancient times to report the resurrection to the unbelieving men and who were first to encounter a resurrected Jesus, and who housed the church in Acts and who continue to witness to the faith in all they do for us. And remember to find time for them - those who mother, your sisters, your aunts - and so on, and find time to notice and give thanks for the blessing of women’s ministry amongst us. It was Mary who held, cleaned, wiped, loved, fed and grew the Lord to be the man we meet in the Gospels and who prefigures our faith. So, Now is the month of maying, as the English Ballett by Thomas Morley (1595) puts it. A time to enjoy one another’s company and a month I shall try harder once more to carve out a little more time for Helen and Louis.
Thank you for your prayers and support thus far and for the genuine interest you have in supporting us whilst we ‘hold the fort’ until the Rector’s return - refreshed and revived and with greater energy - gulp!
May promises to be just as busy with Rogation Sunday in the fields at Castle Farm, Ascension Day on 9th with a 7.30am Matins and Singing from the Church Tower at Nutfield and 7.30pm Eucharist at Bletchingley, May Queen crowning at Bletchingley at noon and Enormous Plant and Bric a Brac Sale at Nutfield, Pentecost on 19th and Corpus Christi with Eucharist at 8pm at Bletchingley and visit to see the Carpet of Flowers at Arundel Cathedral and to all of which you are invited and which enthuses and delights the red in me!
- St Mary the Virgin
- Church Lane
- RH1 4LP