Vicar's Letter

 

A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OUR READERS

… and Thank You for Everything, Nursling and Rownhams!

 

Dear Friends,

 

It is with such very mixed emotions that I write my last “Vicar’s Letter” for Twin Spires News.  In one form or other, we have church magazines going back to roughly when St John’s was consecrated 163 years ago.  I have been your vicar for 19 of those years.  But now the time has come and I shall finally be moving on to other things. 

 

I came to the conclusion back in the summer that a break from ordained ministry, and a different set of challenges and opportunities, is vital for me – at least for a while.  For some, I know that that is hard to hear.  I don’t think there is anything in the New Testament to suggest that church leadership is necessarily for life.  It is scary, but exciting, to feel myself being called onward to something new, and a relief to finally be at peace with that.  But it really is an absolutely massive change, not least for a 53-year-old grandad!  Your prayers please.

 

Let me emphasise that this is not happening because of any lack of support over the years here.  On the contrary, the support has been first class, and I believe that when you have grieved a while, the successor whom God is already calling and equipping to come and take over will find that they are just as supported.  The way I felt taken to people’s hearts at the time of my marriage break-up is something I will treasure to the end of my days.  It has been such an honour to serve as your vicar, leader, parish priest if you prefer.  Let me also emphasise that I have not ‘lost my faith’, and I am hugely looking forward to 2018’s celebration with you of the Love that came down that first Christmas.  May it be our best.

 

My plan for the short term has been to find a day job that will pay my rent, and use evenings and weekends – and holidays maybe – to try and build up work as a musician, starting from the contacts I already have, which could include some of those reading this…. As I write, the day job has been found, and by the time you read this I should have announced the details – and found a flat. 

As I write, I must assume that my last Sunday services here will be on the 6th of January (Epiphany) but it’s possible I may get permission to work a couple more Sundays.  In any case I don’t have to vacate the Vicarage until the beginning of February, so I shall be around quite a bit for that long.  Please DO disturb, I am painfully aware that if I were moving to a new clergy post, you would get more notice than this, and I sincerely hope that not too many of you will feel you didn’t get to say goodbye properly.  So pop by and have a coffee, please.  I’ll be ready for one.

 

I would like to offer you a Verse of the Year 2019.  It encourages me, as it shows so clearly that there is more than one way to make a difference for God.  It’s from St Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, and it concludes a particularly beautiful piece of teaching (chapter 3 verses 12-17).

 

‘Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.’

(Colossians 3:17).

 

Christians are called to do the ordinary things in the name of Jesus, i.e. in the way he would do them in our place. ‘WHATEVER you do’: God can use whatever we do to make a difference to those around. Do we believe our lives are like an orange, segmented into the “sacred” and “secular”, or more like an apple, in which the whole is available to God?  ‘Whatever YOU do’:  God wants to use you to make a difference to the people and places where you spend time. He will help.  ‘Whatever you DO’: Our work is for God alone, out of gratitude for his love for us. Let’s remember this especially when what we do seems hard, unrewarding, or unappreciated.

 

Never forget: God made you in his image, Christ thought you worth dying for, and there is no such thing as an “ordinary Christian”. 

 

God bless you, wonderful parish and wonderful Christians. 

 

Your friend, and deeply grateful sometime leader,

Julian