I realise that over the last few blog entries I have had a few polemical moments and thought it was about time for a more mellow and positive entry - particularly as this is the 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness'! Even though its my day off (not really happening today as harvest festival for school, will try to take tomorrow instead) I want to say something about ministry and to get rid of the last less than cheerful heading for my blog :-)
A funeral, a wedding rehearsal, village eucharists, schools services and various visits and events in this last few days have served to remind me just what a privilege this ministry is! Likewise a conversation with a gentleman who is congregational member, deep thinker, and deeply committed to the life of both the parish Church and community in where I live has helped me to see again just how fortunate (or blessed if you prefer) I am to be in this place, with these people, doing what I do. And grateful for dedicated members of our congregations who simply want the best for their churches and village communities!
Because of the huge changes in the nature of Anglican ministry, because of the history that sometimes hangs around our necks like the Ancient Mariner's Albatross - particularly the perception that 'every village had a vicar' - because the church and our society are caught up in the middle of incredible changes, the move perhaps from the epoch of 'Modernity' to something else not yet formed (I won't get on to Post Modern philosophy and cultural shifts here, but things are changing) then its easy for Clergy, and particularly those of us who are 'thinking out loud' about some of these things, to get a little bit rattled, and sometimes strident, in the way we express the need to change.
Of course, I come from the background of a couple of degrees in theology and twenty or so years in pastoral ministry - Parish, Schools and Universities - the last fourteen of those as an ordained minister. I've had the benefit of time and experience that have allowed me to grapple with issues of ministry and mission in a way that few are able to. Not that I have the answers, but just had lots of experience of having that as my focus. Most 'normal' members of our congregations and villages haven't had time, or perhaps inclination, towards such navel gazing and my sometimes strongly expressed views are a complete surprise to many of them. Many these folk have expertise and experience in fields I can't even begin to imagine, some of them have been very prominent and/or successful in the field of education, commerce, finance, defence, health, business and much much more. If someone came up to me and tried to explain the exact causes of our current economic crisis using their experience in banking or finance I would be complete bamboozled by that - why should I expect my twenty years of musing on the life and witness of the Church to have any different effect?!
So my experience this week, and my conversation this morning, have served as a salutary reminder - choose one's words well, share appropriately, don't expect everyone to have the same experience - and certainly not the same opinion - as onesself, and enjoy the privilege and adventure that this calling to Mission and Ministry offers! Deo Gratias!