Monday, 1 April 2013
Well thats it- Lent and Easter 2013 are over. (Yes I know we have Easter season for another 50 days but the Easter weekend with its gamut of services has come and gone. Back on the Monday before Ash wednesday I woke up with s sinking feeling and spent the day feeling quite low. It had struck me how relentless the life of a Curate is. On that Monday morning I woke conscious that having preached on the Sunday I now had to switch off those thoughts and switch on thoughts about the following Sundays services and also with a long list of tasks to do in order to prepare for all the services and events to come before easter Sunday. I made a list- and I prayed. On Ash wednesday it hit me that while feeling stressed at that moment, Holy week and Easter weekend would happen, and whether I had managed to get everything done or not, come Easter Monday it would be too late and all would be over. So as I awoke this morning it was with gratitude to God that with His help I ddi manage to get everything done, and now I can have a rest for 24 hours before starting again with planning for Sundays sermon, family service and the start of a new toddler group ! So what did I do over the last 7 weeks? I planned and led a Family service, I prepared and facilitated Experience easter over three days in church, I helped at a marriage preparation day, I went to two training courses for being a governor in school, I prepared two sermons and preached them, I prepared and led a reflective service in church,I led reflective service for the Mothers Union, I prepared a Palm Sunday praise for a village church ( but then had it cancelled due to 3 foot drifts of snow closing the road!), I visited the sick, took home communion to the house bound, helped at the Churches Together childrens club, attended PCC meetings, I led assemblies in 5 schools, went to staff meetings, I prepared and led an hour at the cross for good friday, and I deaconed at many other services. In other words I did all the normal work of a deacon with some extras thrown in. And I loved every moment of it despite that initial wobble 7 weeks ago. Now I'm tired but looking forward to having a fortnights holiday in France with my wonderful husband who has helped and supported me in any way he could over the last few weeks. Lesson learnt- that I can not do anything in my own strength but with the help of God I can achieve all he wants me to.
Thursday, 21 February 2013
As I sat in the parish church yesterday between Morning Prayer and the start of the mid week communion service I thought- how special Wednesday mornings have been for me for some years. Back when I first started worshipping at St Thomas Brampton and began the slow process of discernment towards ordained ministry the church would be open every wednesday morning from 9-12 for prayer and I set aside an hour every Wednesday to go and pray. It was a hard discipline at times but I benefitted so much from those silent hours in the church. This became especially inportant for the few months when I worked on a Sunday and so somtimes had to miss Sunday services. Then when I moved south to Devon and worked for the Methodist church I could only worship in an Anglican church mid week and so would go to their Wednesday morning communion. It gave me the roots in the Anglican church that I needed and I loved the gentle service with a dozen other people. I came to feel very much part of that congregation and valued my time among them. At college Wednesday's were group worship days so that rather than having morning prayer followed by communion we had an hour in Groups which we all took turns to lead a form of morning prayer, but with which we could be creative. Then in the evening we had our College Eucharist. So wednesdays remained a day set apart slightly different and still special. Now I am in a team ministry and so on Sundays can be in any of our 10 churches- and often in three on one Sunday! Mid week we have a Communion service and I am realising again how valuable that time is. I serve for the Celebrant (oh and set everything up before hand) but otherwise this is one service when I can simply rest in God not having to be responsible for anything. that will change after July when I will occasionally be the one celebrating, but for the most part it is a time to simply 'be' on God. As a prist that is something I need to continue to learn- how to be rather than do for God. We had a clergy Quiet Day on Tuesday- a time at the start of lent which the Bishop had arranged for us to come together and spend time learning, listening and being. The speaker- Stephen Cheey has written a book Beyond Busyness and he made mention of it in the last session reminding us that we are called to spend time with god bot rushing around doing all the time. This is cxomething I am trying to take to heart this lent. Next tuesday I shall have the opportunity of a quiet day for reading and will also spend some time with my Spiritual Director. I have also booked a week down in Sheldon to spend a few days before my priesting in quiet contemplation. I know that I need to spend more time with God as things get more involved in the Team and in my role as Curate.
Wednesday, 23 January 2013
When the oldest man in Britain was 105 his friends bought him a cricket bat with 105 not out on it. Today I acted as sidesperson at his funeral where it was said that he was now 110 declared. Reg Dean reached the age of 110 and 63 days before his death on the eve of the epiphany. I only met Reg once- on the eve of his 110th birthday and by then he was very frail and yet clearly still had a very active mind and a deep living faith. Since his death there have been a couple of news items about him and an articles in the paper, all of which made clear his deep and abiding faith in Christ. On the Sunday a week after his death the church celebrated the baptism of Christ and at all the services I attended Reg made it into the sermons. He was such a glowing example, not a saint but a very human man who showed how we can each walk with Christ day by day. He said in one interview that I heard that there were 3 questions he had asked in life- who am I, why am I here and where am I going. These questions are what the world asks and what we as Christians seek to answer through our own faith in God and study of the scriptures. Todays funeral was devised by Reg and as such had all the characterisitcs of the man. It included songs from the Dalesman Male voice choir which he had helped to found, readings of scripture and poetry, a tribute from his son and a homily from a friend. It was ecumenical with both URC minister and the Rector leading and was held in the Parish church as the largest building. The refreshments that followed were served in the local Methodist Church and had been prepared by the local cafe. There were TV cameras and reporters as well as the local radio there and yet it was a simple celebration of a well loved man just like the two funerals I will take next week. It has been a privelage to be part of all this , for it has been a joy to learn more about a man who walked with God for 110 years and who I am sure is now at rest and peace in the 'mansion' which Christ had gone to prepare.
Thursday, 3 January 2013
Well I've finally got time to catch my breath after the Christmas rush- I did take a week off after Christmas but spent a lot of it sleeping or with family. So how was my first Christmas as a priest? One word- WONDERFUL I loved it all- from the social events which I went to in my role as Curate, to the Christmas fairs, to Home Communions with people too frail to get out to church but who were so grateful that we could come to them. Then there was the services- strange times being at the sharp end leading. I had to put together and lead two carol services and two crib services. But it was a wonderful experience leading others in the joy of the birth of our Saviour. I came out from each one satisfied with what had happened but already planning changes and improvements for next year. It was also wonderful on the Sunday between Christmas and new Year to go to a church away from my own and spend time worshipping and having no responsibilities. I am a queer mixture- I was raised in an Anglo catholich parish, spent many years in a charismatic free church returned to the CofE into an evangelical parish and then while in Devon refound my anglo catholic roots. College was broad though mainly liberal catholic and so I find my own spirituality quite a mix. In my present parishes the anglo catholic side gets well and truly fed but on Sunday I was able to indulge my evanglical side. It keeps me balenced and open to what ever God wants of me in future ministry. I'm now looking forward to 2013, to continuing to learn and minister in these 10 churches, to being ordained priest in June- only 6 months away now! Also to spending more time with my sons and grand daughter- it was a joy over Christmas to see 2 of my sons and to see my little grand daughter a couple of times. My middle son was working but is coming north in a couple of weeks so more joy. Now its time to return to preparing the Epiphany service for Sunday and looking at the textas for the following weeks sermon :)
Saturday, 8 December 2012
Well time has yet again flown past me and here we are at the beginning of Advent- of waiting. In the past weeks since I last posted I have continued with funeral ministry, school assemblies, an RE day in school where 5 and 6 year olds spent the day learning about the Bible, planning Christmas services, taking part in three services each Sunday- and preaching at some of them and visiting people. I have also been to the Dioscesan Clergy Conference which came only days after the vote re women Bishops, and have also attended a number of training days. My life is as full as ever and as we move towards Christmas gets even fuller- and as a resulkt I lose the sense of waiting, the sense of wonder that should be part of the advent time. I even had to miss the advent carold service at the main church last Sunday as I was on duty in one of the villages switching on their Christmas tree lights and so singing chritmas carols. Thvious two years I sang in the college choir at tAdvent carol service and it really set the mood for Advent , so I was left feeling slightly bereft this year. however I did enjoy the service in the village and know that team ministry with 10 churches does mean missing certain things occasionally. Waiting is also of course the theme after the gebneral Synods vote on Women Bishops. I had mixed feelings about the vote and am still not sure how to exptess them. That we will have women Bishops in the future I have no doubt. That we will have to continue to wait- yes. That work has to be done for those who cannot accept women Bishops an even bigger yes. It was their provision that the vote fell down on. It is very hard as a women to hear that your ministry isn't valid, buthaving in my distant past had leanings both to anglo catholicism and conservative evangelicalism I do understand their point of view. How we can ever reach some form of provision that all will be happy with I don't know. I certainly wouldn't want to see Women Bishops as a second class role. Having said all that I have no desire to be a Bishop and in some ways would actuially be glad for the whole discussion to go away and just allow me to carry on as a priest doing what God has called me to. However as part of that calling is to bring Good News to all people, the churches view of women as expressed by the vote calls into question how it can be good news to women in our society today. Lots more reflecting to be done.
Sunday, 14 October 2012
Two weeks ago we returned from a wonderful fortnight in the Lake District. Despite a few set backs with the cottage we stayed at, and some of the heaviest rain of the summer we had a lovely time. We were blessed by being able to rent a cottage through Off Duty a site where clergy rent out their 'retirement' homes to other clergy. This was a real blessing as we were able to go from a Monday rather than a Saturday. The Lake District is a great place for a holiday for us. I read a blog before I went that listed things which made for a perfect holiday- they included familiarity along with new places to visit, good food places to eat and freedom to come and go when you needed. Our holiday met all these criteria. I particualrly wanted somewhere to stay where we could get up when we wanted, stay in and read if we so desired ( and on one very wet day tahts just what we did) roads that I knew and some new places to visit. Having spent my teen years fell walking most Sunday I know the lake district well and having my Mum just down the road to visit made it even better. We had a lovely day out on Lake Windemere, and ate in lots of great restaurants in Bowness. As a result I came back refreshed and ready for the next stage in life. it really feels like another stage, coming back- I was straight into a week of school visits and meetings, and since have sermons to prepare and two funerals coming up. I went from being the new curate to feeling very much part of the team and knowing what was expected of me. It was a strange semnsation to come back and feel so much part of the place. Thats not to say that there won't be much more learning and that I won;t find myself feeling at a loss and the new girl in the future but I definitely felt as if I had made some form of transition while away. Now its on with the day to day life of a parish- which with 10 churches includes making a fool of myuself when I mix people up! But thats another story!
Sunday, 16 September 2012
I can't believe its a whole month since I last posted. It's not that there hasn't been plenty to blog about- but time has simply sped by. In the last month I have continued with the daily life of a curate- To give and idea of what a 'normal' week entails here is an extract from my diary for the last week. Monday- 9am lead Morning Prayer 10am- 3.30pm Team development day 12-1.15pm leave meeting to take a funral and burial 3.30pm -4pm Admin with Rector 4-5pm Tel calls Tuesday- 9am Morning Prayer 9.30am Market day so wander round town meeting people 10.15am Coffe at the baptist Church- the place to meet everyone else! 11am Home visit 12.15pm Admin and emails 1.30pm Lunch 2.15pm Home Communion 3.30pm Hospital visit in the next town 4.45pm meeting to learn more about Kidzone and my involvement Wendesday 8.30am Set up for Eucharist 9am School assembly 9.30am Morning Prayer 10am Eucharist 11am Admin in church office 12 emails at home 7.30pm PCC meeting Thursday 9am School Assembly and meet with Head teacher 10am Work in church office 10.40am Deanery Chapter ( with lunch) 1.30pm Secondary school visit to church 2.15pm Supervision 3.15pm Visit to school where I am to be a governor 4.15pm Home visit 6.45pm Wedding rehearsal Friday day off Saturday 9am Morning Prayer 10am Sermon prep. 11.30am Wedding 2-4pm Finish sermon and sort out intercessions etc. Sunday 9.30am Deacon and Preach at Eucharist 11am Deacon and Preach at Eucharist 6.30pm Lead and preach at Evensong Then I shall be on holiday until 1st October. The bare outlines of my diary don't include of course telephone calls, conversations as I've walked around the streets and the thinking involved in prepariong for the sermon- I have been mulling over the text for a good 10 days before I sat down to write it yesterday. I had hoped to get it written on Tuesday but the home visits etc suddenly fell into the diary. With schools returning and now I am getting to know and be know in the churches the work load is increasing- but at the same time I am finding I can get through some of the prep much quicker than I used to do. As we go on holiday tomorrow my highlights of the last 10 weeks are: 1. The funerals I have taken and the speed with which relationships are built at the time of grief. I couldn't believe how God enabled me to absorb and then write about the life of the people for whom I was taking the funeral. It was a great joy yesterday when the widow from Mondays funeral rang to ask the time of the service this evening as she wished to coem to church. My only regret is that I shall be at a differnt church and therefore unable to greet her myself. However I have forwarned a church warden so hopefully she will still be made to feel welcome. 2. Becoming involved in the local schools and building relationships there. The only low of the last 10 weeks is the slowness in which I am getting around the villages and getting to know people. With 10 churches its difficult to begin to really build strong links- but I am sure they will come in time. Now I am looking forward to a couple of weeks in the lake District with my lovely husband who has thrown himself wholeheartedly into being a curates husband and is now finding himslef with tasks such as being Crucifer for the main church ! Hope to blog more regularly after the holiday.