I must admit - it was part of the plan. With a two-month double issue of this Parish Magazine there didn’t seem too much urgency in getting this issue to press. And I wasn’t quite sure what we’d be including anyway! Meanwhile we have had plenty to keep us occupied in the parish, culminating in the wonderful Confirmation Service which we hosted last night (as I write). This is the third time we’ve welcomed Bishop Mark, the Bishop of Jarrow - and the third time he’s arrived in torrential rain. Later he tweeted that perhaps the Bishop of Durham should come next time in the hope that it will break the episcopal connection with extreme weather - but I reminded him that when he held that office Bishop Tom Wright had merely brought the hottest conditions of the year instead.
Nevertheless it was a great occasion. We started the service a bit late - in part because with 28 candidates for Confirmation the Bishop had to sign a lot of paperwork and presentation books beforehand. For which we were grateful - all our candidates received episcopally-signed cards together with prayer books which we hope will nourish them spiritually.
I was delighted that we were asked to be the host parish. Apart from anything else we do this sort of thing rather well in terms of organisation, liturgy and welcome - I’m glad to say that the Bishop told me that! But I’m pleased also because it gives us the chance to have a great act of witness in our midst: people of varying ages ready to stand up and say what they believe as they come to Baptism (for two of them) and Confirmation. It’s a reminder to the rest of us of our calling. Jesus chooses us - what are we going to do about it? Jesus is living in our midst - as the Bishop reminded us - so what are we going to do about it?
There’s no doubt that we do a lot of doing. Read about it in this issue! - and quite likely you’ve been part of it in one way or another. So now I’m hoping that things will slow down a little - or at least that we’ll have a change of pace and approach. For me it means less preparation, planning and policy-making (more of this another time) - and a move into a season of lots of Baptisms and Marriages. That’ll be fun! Hopefully there’ll be a little time for reading and reflection too - and maybe even some attention given to a now hugely-overgrown garden.
I hope other people will be able to change pace too. There’s so much to be thankful in the hard work, brilliantly executed, by so many. Thanks to you all - and for your support and encouragement!