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 :)