So we have arrived at Thursday – which for me is the final day of my working week as Friday is my day off! People are often surprised that full time Anglican priests work six days a week and that for most their day off is in what for the majority of the population is the normal working week. I love having a Friday off – it sets me up for the forthcoming week and is an opportunity to catch up with friends and do all those little jobs that mount up!
Anyway that is another 24 hours away – there is still plenty to do before I get there!
Thursday is the other days on which the parish runs the Re-Store project. On Wednesday evening we receive a further donation of fresh food from the local Tesco as part of our participation in the FareShare scheme, which matches supermarkets with local food projects, thus reducing waste and enabling us to support people who are going through challenging situations.
One of the scriptural pillars of my faith is this verse from Micah 6 “ And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” As some of you might know I have a shortened version tattooed on my foot! This verse sums up so much of what I feel God is calling me to do and I am so very conscious that the food ministry that our parish is so committed to enables me to live out that command from God to act justly. Re-Store also helps me to be mindful of the practical application of Jesus’s commandment that we love our neighbours as ourselves ( Matthew 22:39) which again is fundamental to the call that I hear from God to serve Him.
I had to leave our lovely volunteers to continue sorting out food parcels as I was booked on to a webinar about Christmas! Normally we would have begun to plan Christmas as a parish in September but the uncertainty of Covid has made it much harder to work out what we can and cannot do. The webinar was really helpful and as a result I have organised a meeting with other members of the ministry team (via Zoom of course!) to discuss what is possible. One of the important messages was that different doesn’t necessarily mean worse and that we need to ensure our community feel welcomed by the church over the Christmas season and beyond, even if it’s not in the way in which they are accustomed. However we also need to ensure that there is some familiarity in what we are able to offer – this year is not the time to suggest we sing a whole new load of Christmas carols, if indeed we can sing at all! The challenge will be to find a way of anchoring Christmas in its long held values but creatively so that as many people as possible can participate in worship.
It’s at times like these that I can sometimes feel overwhelmed by ministry – there is so much that we could do but only limited resources with which to do it. Another of my scriptural anchors is this verse from Philippians 4 is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” These words remind me that without Jesus, ministry is impossible and that I serve Him through HIs invitation to me which is a privilege not a burden.
God’s timing as usual is of case perfect because this afternoon I had a session with my wise and wonderful Spiritual Director (yep by Zoom obviously!) This may sound very daunting but it is literally balm for the soul. Over the course of an hour I am able to share those experiences that I have had that have both enriched my faith and those that have challenged it. My Spiritual Director encourages me to think about where I have seen God in these situations and what I believe Him to saying to me through them. Spiritual direction, or companionship as it is sometimes known as, is an intensely personal experience so I won’t share too much about it other than to say it is a blessing and truly enriches me.
As I write this, I am conscious that I have a zoom Governing Board meeting at 5pm. I am fortunate to be a Governor at two of our local schools, Fairhouse and Greensted Infants and it is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my role in the community. None of our local primary schools are Church of England schools, but all of them are incredibly welcoming and enthusiastic in their engagement with the parish and I firmly believe that the relationships that we can all foster through this are part of God’s mission. I am missing welcoming the children into our church buildings and also going into school but I know that our partnerships are continually being strengthened even if its not in the way we may have planned!
So as I continue to prepare for the meeting at 5, I shall leave you all at this point. See you tomorrow