Dear friends at St. Bartholomew’s,

It was going to happen sometime… the main question was when! My time as rector was always to run between 5 to 6 years so Nicci and I began to explore possible areas for our new home over recent months as I approached my eighth decade. It is interesting that we have been drawn back toward the area where we lived for about 35 years before our expedition into parish ministry here in Ducklington.

As we begin to brief Roger and Gill as sequestrators on behalf of the bishop, we realise how much is done outside of formal process as things just “happen” when they need to be done. It’s rather like the Brutish Constitution, evolving to respond to current needs and context. I am most grateful to those who see a need and respond to it, without fuss or bother. It is these faithful disciples who are true witnesses to the love of God in our desperately needy world.

Doubtless there will be some reckoning in the coming months about what has changed in our time here and it will be for the fellowship to decide what it will continue with and what it will let go. As we come to the end of lockdown restrictions, some honest conversations will need to be had about how the congregation will continue in worship. Will people want to continue with liturgy projected on screen or reconsider the use of service cards? Will some regular worshippers still want to access on Zoom, because of concern about covid infection?

As we look back over these last 14 months, we have found ourselves acceding to changes in our social interaction which we would never have dreamt was ever likely to happen. What have we learnt about ourselves, our relationships with one another and our relationship with God? As the “constants” of daily life have been swept away, have we held to the one constant which is truly important, that of the unchanging nature of God? Without our faith to hold to this sense of the immutability of God, we would not be able to draw on the power of God, the love of God and the strength of God, expressed in the nature of the Trinity.

As the church rises to the opportunities to work together through the coming vacancy, it is my prayer for you all that the range of gifts and the exercising of practical ministry will continue and to which God calls all of us as we share in his mission to his world. May God bless, equip and encourage each one of you in your special calling to make disciples as you witness to Jesus’ love for you and for those you meet.

 

Rev’d Paul.