The Benefice of St. Bartholomew

From the Rector - October 2016

Dear Friends,

I sit to write this to you the morning following my fortieth birthday party. I'll take this opportunity to thank everyone who gave cards and gifts and passed on best wishes. It was greatly appreciated. Especial thanks go to Gerry Purdue and David Morgan who put up a "mini marquee" not once but twice due to fierce gusts of wind on the afternoon of the event. Thanks also to guests who had arrived from Bedford, Kent and France who held on to it until they arrived.

There are some similarities between my last parish which I left at the beginning of January 2010 and this Benefice. They are both rural, similar population numbers and similar demographics. One of the main differences seems to be the time one leaves a party. The party last night wound up just before 2am. With the exception of a former next door neighbour from Frome, Anna and I, the seven others left at the end were all from that last parish. There was something quite lovely that people I haven't served for six and a half years made such an effort. There was something nostalgic about having the "old gang back together".

Although there is a very sentimental part of me that always misses people and places of all the areas i’ve lived and worked that isn't what my reflecting on this is about. My thoughts have been about the nature and inevitability of change.

Our former neighbour from Frome now lives in Bedford. Of our seven friends from Sussex only two still live in the same village. The concept of change can be a very difficult one for people to grapple with especially when accompanied by a sense that things won't be the same again. On the other hand life is about constant change and development from the moment of our birth. We can sometimes forget this just as we can sometimes forget that we are called to grow with God.

I found myself saying at a wedding recently that I suspected that ultimately couples either grow together or they grow apart. We know that relationships and friendships and family life in one sense just happen and that, like my group of friends, we can meet after a long time and continue from where we left off. Yet we also know that all manner of relationships at times require work, patience, perseverance and forgiveness. They benefit from sharing joy and sadness and being together to lament and to celebrate. My conclusion is blindingly obvious and you would have seen it coming a mile away; we also need to spend time being aware of the presence of God and working to deepen our relationship with him. I just wish you and I would remember it more consistently!

Yours ever,

Richard