Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘parish life’

There was some bright sunshine as I walked the Vicarage Hound this morning, as well as a stiff breeze. The stonemasons working on repointing the church building at the moment reported that it was a bit bracing where they are working up the scaffolding on the South side.

To get to our most local park I walk past the church, down the stubby road where the drug dealers often lurk, and then along the Metro path. There’s a patch of wasteground there, between the back of our church school and the allotments. You can cut down through it to the entrance to the park, although I walk further on and enter the park by the tiny concrete skate park, just by the next Metro stop down.

Sometimes you can find people drinking in the wasteground, or even consuming more noxious substances. And last summer someone set up a pretty serious camp, with tents and old wooden doors and washing lines. It’s pretty scruffy there – people drop their beer cans and other litter and sometimes there is some more substantial flytipping. The trees and plants aren’t really tended at all, but we’ve found a mix of maples and sycamores growing, along with brambles and other messy bushes.

And silver birches seem to do well there, especially right by the path. And today the sunshine lit up their bark, showing the intricate broken patterns. Peeking past the trees on the edge of the wasteground, you can see newer, skinnier trees growing up, with smoother shinier bark. Old beauty growing out of simpler beginnings, in amongst the mess and debris. Works of the Lord’s hands. Praying that I would see that beauty in all the intricate broken patterns I encounter in the people of this messy parish and beyond.

Read Full Post »

We’ve been here in our parish for eleven years now – we moved in February half term in 2009. Almost since the beginning I have hosted a weekly coffee morning for people from the church and the community – including school gate mums, bringing baking from the Vicarage kitchen. We call it Cake and Chat, which captures the essence I feel.

IMG_20200227_084516097

Pistachio and citrus peel cookies and blondies were on offer this week

The group who meets includes those who’ve been coming for eleven years and others who’ve joined us in the last few months. We moved last year from meeting in the hall  which is tucked away from the road and has an echoey floor. Now we gather in the church itself, where we now have some café seating and can have the main doors open.

Over the last few weeks we’ve discussed what we’d do with a lottery win and the allure of gambling machines, we’ve chatted about the local lads who race their cars up the dual carriageway on Sunday nights, we’ve wrestled with Bible verses and with questions of identity and relationships. Our group includes Christians and Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs and people of no faith at all. Mostly we speak English but other times you can hear Polish, Punjabi and Patois. We begin around 8.30am and can still be chatting at noon. Some of my most precious times in parish life has been spent with this group.

The God of the Bible is the God who speaks, who breathes everything into being through his Word of life. Is it any surprise that chatting brings such joy and delight? Speaking makes things – it can make relationships. As we seek to build relationships of love in our community, time taken to chat (especially when there’s cake aswell) is never time wasted.

Read Full Post »

Coat Conundrum

Well, the new term is underway and we’re back to parish life in full swing. Our midweek groups are back on, we’re getting frequent callers at the door and there are kids squealing in the churchyard in the evenings. And coats being thrown on the church hall roof. Of course.

Wondering if a ladder and a tall vicar will be enough to solve this one

Wondering if a ladder and a tall vicar will be enough to solve this one

Read Full Post »

I’m off again today on the Proclamation Trust’s wonderful Minister’s Wives’ Conference. I’m looking forward to being refreshed by teaching from Lizzie Smallwood and Vaughan Roberts, chatting to friends from dawn until dusk and being encouraged by hearing what God is doing in many different places.

It’s hard to believe that it’s a year since I was last at Hothorpe Hall. We have been living in our Vicarage for two years now. We moved in during February half term and the Vicar was inducted on 10th March.

There seems to be a pattern in moving to a new parish: a while ago I blogged about the ‘I hate foreign’ part that happens early on. But a lot of clergy say that the second and third years can be tough – when you start changing things more and your weaknesses become more exposed.  It’s when you begin to really know your congregation and your parish and they you. I think we’ve found that true – last summer felt like quite hard going. But now we are very encouraged by signs of growth.

And only yesterday the Vicar launched a big new initiative: we are aiming to increase the number of small groups. We’ve even had fabulous banners printed up. Designed by a Vicar’s wife, natch.

Does your church have small groups? How are they getting on? Any wisdom could come in very handy…

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: