From the Curate - April 2019

By the time you read this article we will have become used to the clocks having changed and us ‘losing an hour’ at the end of March. We will be enjoying lighter evenings and seeing the signs of new life in nature around us. It is a lovely time of year.

I am looking forward to experiencing spring and summer whilst living in a village. I’ve been told by a few local residents that we don’t tend to go out much on winter evenings. Having been out on moonless or overcast nights, I can see why! Even if we were all out and walking about, we still wouldn’t see each other! Just last week I received a telephone call in the evening from somebody trying to find the house. I told them there was a temporary A4 laminated sign on the gate. This didn’t really help matters so I decided to walk out to the road to see if I could see them and they me. As I opened the front door and walked out onto the road I realised the folly in my mission. Dressed all in black, on an evening when there was no break in the cloud meant I wouldn’t be seeing anybody and they certainly couldn’t see me. Then, as I peered into the darkness, I could see in the distance a faint blue glow and realised it may well be the individual’s mobile phone as they were talking to me. I turned on the torch on my mobile and started to wave it to try and show where I was. This plan worked and, a few minutes later, the person arrived. All this was rather comical at the time but it seemed somewhat fitting as i pondered the fact this was the first evening of a Lent course.

Soon, Lent will have gone and we will have celebrated Easter. We will be refreshed from our time of rest and our time of getting to know ourselves better during Lent as we struggled with things we gave up or learnt something in an activity we have taken on. We may, by attending church services, have engaged with Jesus’ journey leading from his entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, through his Last Supper with his disciples, his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, trial, crucifixion, death and resurrection. The greatest celebration is the easter Vigil when the Paschal (or Easter) Candle is lit from a fire and the light from this candle is brought into the unlit church. This small flame is so clear in that space and for Christians it reminds us of the light of Christ in our midst. As we move into the church the candles of the congregation are lit as we become bearers of Christ’s light into the world. To make known to all people that God loves us so much that God was prepared to become human and die for us to then show us the glory of the resurrection to which we are all called.

Like I found in the country lane, a tiny amount of light can be seen far away and can shatter the darkness that engulfs us. As we build community around us and engage more with each other as the evenings become lighter, we are reminded that where two or three are gathered then God is there in the midst of them. I believe we reflect the community of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit whenever we do our best to build community that looks out for each other. Our light as village communities shines bright when the lonely, bereaved and sick are cared for. I am a great believer that the Church follows Jesus’ teaching when it does all it can to help build communities and offer a home to community activities. As clergy, we are here to minister to all our parishioners which means you. If there is anything you would like to talk over or an event you feel the church would be good to be involved with then let us know. If we carry the light of Christ together, we can shine brightly and the darkness of loneliness or sickness can’t engulf that light but is shattered by it. We look forward to continuing in our ministry alongside you as the summer draws near.

Kevin


From the Curate - March 2019

As I sit to write this article it is wonderful to notice a moment of peace in what has been a rather full week. Two days ago we completed our move into Donhead St Andrew from Shaftesbury. In this moment I am aware of the peacefulness and beauty of our surroundings and of feeling very blessed by God at being called to serve in such a lovely part of the Diocese. In my short time in fully rural ministry I have already gained an insight into the joys but also the challenges that rural living can bring. I am sure now that we have moved I shall gain even greater insight into these aspects of rural living.

In this moment of stillness and silence I am also reminded that Lent is nearly here and in a short time we will be possibly thinking about what we will be giving up for Lent. When I was a child I remember an older member of the parish saying this would be the year she gave up sugar in her coffee I wondered if she had a rolling calendar of items she gave up each Lent but she explained that a few years before she had given up sugar in her coffee for Lent. By the time she got to the end of Lent, however, she couldn’t drink coffee with sugar in it. The following year she thought hard about what to give up as she no longer had sugar in her coffee and then came up with the idea that she would put the sugar in and force herself to drink it. But then, by the end of Lent when she had her first coffee without sugar she didn’t like it so she waited for the following Lent to give it up again! So the rolling pattern started of giving up sugar one year and adding it the next.

This is a good example to us that we can choose to do something extra during Lent rather than the idea of simply giving up sugar or meat or alcohol. It might be that we attend Morning Prayer or mid-week Eucharist or that we simply find quiet time for prayer and contemplation. It may be visiting the lonely or grieving neighbour or volunteering at a local charity.

Jesus entered the desert for forty days and forty nights after his baptism in the Jordan. It was a time for him to be alone before God, to have a focus on his relationship with the Father and the world before his public ministry began. We can follow the example of Jesus by finding a way to give up or add something into our lives this Lent that will offer us an opportunity to know God, ourselves or our world better. We may feel uncomfortable or put out in the beginning but like the older parishioner above we may well get to the end of Lent and realise we cannot bear to go back to being who we were before Lent started.

We will hopefully also be in a spiritual and emotional place where we can notice the joys of living where we do more clearly and realise we are not alone when we face the challenges that will inevitably arise as we journey through another year together.

Kevin


From the Curate - January 2019

It is very easy to think that Christmas is over once our Christmas and New Year annual leave comes to an end. The Spring Term starts at school and end of semester exams loom throughout January. No doubt a few of us are planning to make some New Year resolutions when 2019 rolls in.

As a Church we continue to celebrate Christmastide up to 6th of January and then we stay in the season as we keep Epiphanytide. During this season we continue to focus on the great gift that we celebrate at Christmas. The Gift of God becoming human. A gift which means we are invited to consider how we are going to live. Not just at Christmas or throughout the month of January when new year resolutions are fresh in our minds but every day of our lives.

During Epiphanytide we celebrate the arrival of the Magi who bring gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. Each gift making explicit different aspects of Jesus’ life and presence in the world. A life and presence that has an impact on humankind for all eternity. We are invited to respond to this gift of God. And our response can lead us into some very interesting and unexpected places and situations.

I am delighted to say that my response to God's invitation has led me to be Assistant Curate in the Benefice of St Bartholomew. I look forward to serving among you for about three years. Liz (my wife) and our family are looking forward to moving into Donhead St Andrew during the first part of the new year. We currently live in Shaftesbury and have lived there since September 2017. I was Assistant Curate in the Shaftesbury Team from September 2017 until December 2018 when I was licenced to the Benefice of St Bartholomew.

Before moving to Shaftesbury we lived in Wimborne. I lived there for 10 years whilst Liz has lived there most of her life. Liz still works in Wimborne for a couple of days a week and the rest of the week works in Guildford. At the moment Liz is completing a PhD so all in all is kept very busy. I am step-dad to four children but two of these are now at university so the house is now only a full one at holiday time. Our eldest lives in Southampton with her fiancé, having decided to settle there after completing her degree and we are delighted to be (step) grandparents to a very active granddaughter of 16 months!

When responding to God's invitation to know and love God we don't ever really know where God will lead us. It won't necessarily be an easy path as there are always the challenges that life throws at us. What we are assured of, however, is that when we accept God's invitation to follow him we will receive God's Grace and Blessing to be the best we can be and to be channels of God's love into our world. When I said yes to a vocation to the ordained ministry the whole family placed ourselves into God's hands not knowing where we would be called to live. We certainly feel blessed by God to now find ourselves in this Benefice.

I look forward to ministering among you and getting to know you in the months ahead. In the meantime I wish you a very happy New Year and God's blessing on your year ahead.

Kevin Martin