Variety’s the very spice of life …
Or so the saying goes, “….that gives it all its flavour”. The lot of a parish priest is nothing if not varied, and having lived it here now for over three years, I can report that it is indeed full of many flavours: from joyous to distressing; from wonderful to frustrating; from challenging to routine. What is it that gives the life of a parish priest so much flavour? You all do!
From Messy Church to Sung Eucharists. From Primary School assemblies to All Souls Day services. From ice clearing and gritting outside of church to preparing couples for marriage. From writing something every month for the village magazine to baptisms and weddings and funerals – both meeting with families to discuss them and conducting the services.
From lunches and socials to hospital and home visits. From working in the café in Benenden’s every Wednesday and meeting people there, to attending Safeguarding training to be aware of potential abuse of vulnerable people. From toddler groups, eating cake, playing with toddlers and drinking coffee, to Choral Evensong.
From Parish, Benefice, Deanery and Diocesan meetings to new Praise services. Not forgetting the weekly services and sermons; or the annual dressing up as a shepherd, or wise man, or innkeeper! From putting too much regular stuff in the diary and dates three years hence, to having to deal immediately with the unexpected. From Christmas Day lunches to Trustee meetings that I didn’t know I’d be a trustee of when I signed up.
The life of a parish priest is truly full of variety and flavour. All of it is about relationships with people. All of it is such a privilege.
One of the big challenges in all of this variety, is staying in touch with God through all the things that I want to do and all the things that are expected of a parish priest. All the priests in Canterbury Diocese were reminded of this recently by our Bishop: that if we lose that connection, we are of no use as a priest to anyone.
His timely reminder was that the words of the Ordinal (the service book used for ordination services) ask of a priest: “That you are fully determined, by the grace of God, to devote yourself wholly to his service, so that as you daily follow the rule and teaching of our Lord and grow into his likeness, God may sanctify the lives of all with whom you have to do.” Serious stuff.
If there are occasions when you do not see me around the village or at different events, please be aware that there are times when I need to “go up the mountain and pray” – to stay in touch with God, so that I can continue to serve the parish as priest in all its rich variety.
Revd David Commander, Rector