The Benefice of St. Bartholomew

From the Rector - July 2017

Dear Friends,

First of all l want to record my (and our) thanks to The Rev’d Canon William Burke who came to help us in the Benefice shortly after I arrived. He had retired to Shaftesbury but soon discovered he “needed to work”. He has been a great help in the Benefice both in taking services but also in pastoral care of our congregations - and also of me; being a very encouraging, loyal and supportive colleague. He is leaving to take up the unusual post of House for Duty Rural Dean in the Diocese of Ely. We wish him well and thank him sincerely.

At the time of writing, we have recently returned from a wonderful driving holiday in Europe. On the whole, the weather was wonderful!

This led me to consider how we so often talk about and reflect on the weather here in the UK. That is not surprising really, because it is always changing. With the weather changing so frequently there is the sense that if you blink you can miss a season (usually summer) and we spend the rest of the year longing for that summer season. From time to time, I get the feeling that we approach life in a similar way; we look forward to a time when everything will be perfect in our lives, but then we never quite reach that point, or if we do it is such a short and transient stage that it has passed before we realise it, and so, we then look back with a sense of sad wistfulness on that perfect time, and yearn for it to come again.

Whenever I catch myself thinking like that I try to stop and instead of longing for something else, try to value the life that l have and the moment of life that is now. It is not always easy to do that, but if we as Christians believe that life is a gift, given by God, then we should always seek to appreciate what we are given and make the most of it, seeing it in the most positive light.

There are probably too many times in all our lives when we feel grumpy about our lot because we don't have what we want, our health has let us down or we just carry with us a sense of weariness. When you become aware of these tendencies in your own demeanour, just stop and remind yourself that this life is God‘s gift to you, try to appreciate it and live it to the full. If you approach your life in that way you may be surprised at how enjoyable it can be, and also how your sense of enjoyment seems to be contagious and infects those around you.

Finally, somebody once asked me what I thought as I approached the altar? This struck me, as I'd never really thought about this question (and indeed, thought it an odd one!) until the same question was asked by a fellow student at theological college of our Principal.The Principal was a deeply spiritual man with a first rate mind, so I was surprised by his answer; he said he thought “oh, hello Jesus, it’s me again”. At first I thought he was joking, but he wasn't.

When I approach the altar these days, l often repeat the phrase of The Jesus Prayer ‘Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner’, but I can’t help myself from thinking “oh, hello Jesus, it’s me again”. At first l found this amusing, then it quickly became irritating and now l accept it as a valid prayer to God, revealing more of his intimacy and love than mine.

Yours ever,

Richard