Rev Chris’ Blog
Join me each month as I ponder life with all the highs and lows we encounter along the way.
I hope you enjoy my blog whose aim is to raise a smile as well as give food for thought.
As always, I would love to hear from you, so please contact me 01278 781147 or [email protected]
God bless you,
Parish Priest for The Huntspills & Mark
September 2021 We’ve only just begun!
‘We’ve only just begun …….to live…… ’ So sang The Carpenters many years ago, in a song that I was delighted to hear again recently at one of the first weddings that I’ve had the privilege of taking in The Huntspills & Mark.
Weddings are such special occasions and it is a real privilege to accompany a couple as they prepare for their marriage, to conduct their marriage ceremony and to be there for them into the future. Many weddings have had to be delayed over the past year or so, and when they have been able to happen they’ve had fewer guests. In addition to this, changes in the legal arrangements of marriage registration have come into force, including the bride and groom having he opportunity to each record up to four names for parents – not only their fathers, but mothers and step parents too. New ways of doing things as part of their new beginning. Over the last few months we have been delighted to hold weddings in the churches across the benefice and are looking forward to many more!
The Carpenters’ song continues with many beautiful phrases: ‘So many roads to choose……We’ll start out walkin’ and learn to run……Sharing horizons that are new to us…..Watching the signs along the way……Talking it over…..Working together day to day…….’. As we have been gradually stepping out of covid regulations, emerging from various degrees of lockdown, it struck me that these phrases are not only relevant for weddings but for us all as we navigate our way into our brave new world, though for me there is also the added sense of newness as I discover our villages of Mark, East Huntpsill & West Huntspill in a new light , and as people get to know me too!
I often think of September as a month of new beginnings. Maybe this stems from school days, with that sense of newness as the academic year begins. New uniforms, new classes, new teachers, maybe a new school, and the smell and freshness of a new exercise book, with as yet no mistakes in it! Each September there seems to be an opportunity to make a fresh start and to recreate ourselves in some way. Even those of us who are no longer at school can do this if we choose to. Amongst all the ‘return to normal’ talk, has been much stress on the ‘new normal’ and taking forward the good things that have been seen through the deep challenges of covid.
I wonder what new beginnings you’d like to hold on to, and what aspects of the old normal you’ll be happy to let go of? Every Sunday, in our worship services, we take time to think over the things we need to change, to let go of, and the adjustments we need to make in our lives – seeking God’s help to become the people we have been created to be. None of us are perfect – we all have room for improvements, and with God’s help we can all seek to make changes for the better.
The song continues: ‘And when the evening comes, we smile……So much of life ahead……We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow……we’ve only begun’. May September be a month of positive steps for you on your journey, may you know the encouragement of those around you and recognise that it is never too late to make changes, and may you find yourself in a place where you have room to keep growing!
God bless you,
August 2021 Building Bridges…
I’ve always been impressed with Clifton Suspension bridge in Bristol – the way that it stretches out from one cliff edge to the other. What an amazing achievement for Isambard Kingdom Brunel over 150 years ago.
I rather like the elegance of the more recent Second Severn Bridge too – opened in 1996. The first major bridge in the world to have its traffic protected from high winds by shielding, it provides a smooth route from England to Wales.
As we have journeyed onwards through the Corona Virus Pandemic, it has felt as if we have been crossing a bridge – from the old world to the new. Unlike many bridge building situations however, we have not benefitted from the knowledge and help of those on the other side, but have instead needed to build this bridge as we cross it! We often prefer our leadership to operate in a more heroic model – being the ones with all the answers, telling us what to do because they are in the know. This time, however, we have had to accept that we are learning as we go, all of us together, and that means that we also have a share in the responsibility.
The Church of England has also been on a journey which is a bit like building a bridge as you cross it – one in which ‘how things will work out’ is yet to be discovered, as it moves through unchartered territory. This sort of journey is far more uncomfortable than that led by an experienced guide in authority, who knows the way and provides clear leadership. Rather than being led by one who inspires, solves the problem and achieves goals on everyone’s behalf, this journeying is about shared responsibility and about people engaging in a way that is communal, non-directive, collaborative and negotiated. This is hardly something new. The late Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, observed that while there are 613 commands in the Jewish scriptures, there is no word for ‘obey’ – instead there is a call to hear, listen, attend and understand. This is what is being sought as The Church of England engages with ‘Living in Love and Faith’ – exploring Christian teaching and learning about identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.
Just as Jesus engaged with the stories of the people he met – so ‘Living in Love and Faith’ places narrative and story at its heart – making room for a variety of voices, experiences and encounters. Community-wide engagement with the ‘Living in Love and Faith’ materials will be fed into the National debates in The House of Bishops and at General Synod. Across The Huntspills & Mark, we will be holding five sessions this autumn – considering Learning Together, Identity, Relationships, Sex, and How diversity and difference affect our life together as a church. These sessions are open to all, as we explore together – and seek to build the bridge as we walk across it.
God bless you,