Monday, September 07, 2009

Yesterday's Sermon

I did publish this one in advance after some very good and interesting discussion via Twitter but though the offer of making adjustments following comments was made as of yet there have still been no comments - for good or bad! I didn't link it from this blog, though, as I know some parishioners read this one and I didn't want them to know what I was going to say before I said it!!!

As always, a taster here and link to the full text at New Kid Deep Stuff:

Year B Proper 18 (2006) RCL Principal
St Giles’ - Open & Welcoming

So, who knows who St Giles was?

My first patronal festival here at St Giles means that I really felt I had to do a little bit of homework on who the great man himself was and why our Church might have been named after him in the hope that I could find something to say about him as we think on the part we have in this community and in our village. So I did a little bit of homework, and it turned out to be only a little as my first instinct was to turn to a book called ‘Exciting Holiness’ which said all I needed to get the thought processes going:
Giles was a hermit who died in about the year 710. He founded a monastery at the place now called Saint-Gilles in Provence which became an important place on the pilgrimage routes His care for the wounded and those crippled by disease resulted in his becoming the patron saint of such people both to Compostela and to the Holy Land., particularly of those with leprosy. Leprosy sufferers were not permitted to enter towns and cities and therefore often congregated on the outskirts, where churches built to meet their needs were regularly dedicated to Giles. [more]

Hello all!

Yes, it's good to be back though I had a very good holiday, but I have hit the ground running since return last week.

As a minister you know you've settled in to a new Parish when you start to really love your Parishioners. Most of us would say (I think) that you come with high hopes and a sense of love and duty as priest and pastor but its when you start connecting, feeling, hoping, more than is strictly necessary that one is becoming the minister and priest of that parish (or group, or team, or Mission Community). I would certainly say I felt that of the last Team I was in, and made good friends and felt at home there. Even those who weren't friends (or even friendly in some cases) I felt a great deal of affection and care for. Those of a certain wing of the church might talk in terms of 'having your heart turned towards the flock' and actually that's not a bad image, of inclining yourself in a particular direction and facing up to responsibilities and joys that come with that.

It didn't take long for me to feel comfortable and welcome and a part of these new parishes. But it was on my return last week that I realised I loved the people more than just loving them because it was my job.

And that's because of a sudden death, an unexpected death, a loss that deeply saddened me not just as 'the Vicar' or because of my concern for the relatives or because I liked this person, but a loss that saddened me as her pastor, colleague and (I would hope, though it was still early days) as a friend.

We will be holding the funeral next week, and I realise that this death is, as well as being a surprise and a shock, something that causes a deep sense of loss in me and a realisation that I love this place and I love these people.

I have officiated at funerals and tried to help people with their bereavements over the past weeks and months and have experienced many visits that have made me sad, some of which have been a shock, all of which it has felt a privilege to take. This one is different, though, and I will remember it as the one where, as a minister, I felt I was 'at home' - not always a comfortable feeling, but a good one. May God continue to give me the strength, grace, love and joy I need to serve his people in this place.