Letter for October

SABBATICAL LEAVE

I have now returned from my three months’ sabbatical (or Extended Ministerial Development Leave). I had a wonderful time – a fantastic holiday visiting family and friends in Australia; a wonderful retreat on the Holy island of Lindisfarne; I undertook some research on how rural churches grow and visited some different parishes to see what they are doing and did a survey; I also had some quality time at home with family and visited friends; took my son to the Proms in London for his 18th birthday and went to a Festival of Preaching in Oxford! It was a great blessing to me and I am feeling much refreshed and renewed.

I would like to thank all those who have supported me in this and took on extra responsibilities during this time – particularly the Ministry Team and our churchwardens.

At some point, I would be happy to share my findings regarding my research into how rural churches grow and hope there may be a suitable opportunity to do that before long.

In the meantime, it’s good to be back! I’m currently catching up on all the news and what’s been going on. I look forward to seeing you at church or at our other events very soon!

With every blessing

Rebecca Harris

This month’s letter comes from Rev Julia Curtis.

October is a month starting with our third and final harvest service so completing our celebrations of the harvest safely gathered. Despite the many days of rain showers, which seemed to start every time a combine reached a field in August – the harvest is complete. It is a month when new seeds are drilled for next year’s crops and a good time to plant new shrubs and bulbs to enjoy next year. Good things take time to grow and mature.

It is also a month when new school, new university and new college years are getting going. Hard work and practice put in now, bears fruit when assessment time comes around in the months ahead. Yes, we do need to practice hard at something to be really good at it because fruit is borne after care, tending and perseverance.

All this can seem to jar a bit with the demands of our consumer society…such as faster broad band, on demand TV, photos and chat which disappear after only a few seconds. Blink and you’ll miss them. In contrast, good rugby players don’t just walk onto the field and play brilliantly at the age of 18 with no practice; great musicians don’t just play - even Mozart, the child genius, had to practice. Achingly beautiful writing or art is the product of many hours spent at the keyboard or easel, with more than a few discarded attempts along the way. Good things take practice to grow and mature.

In October we also remember St Francis of Assisi, whose festival day falls on 4th October. Francis was the son of a rich cloth merchant and so had a keen interest in fashion and the latest trend. After a spell as a prisoner of war, his life changed completely when God called him to rebuild a semi-derelict chapel – “Go and repair my church, which you see is falling down” were the words Francis clearly heard. This he did stone, by stone. Slowly his helpers grew and over time they founded a community, lived in poverty and devoted themselves to prayer and the poor. Good things take time to build and mature.

So in this ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ settles in and the rhythm of the year starts. What is it that you will devote your time and energy to this autumn? Is it something that will bear fruit in months to come or is it something that will disappear as quickly as the early morning mist? I pray that whatever it is, God blesses you in it, and that the fruit it bears will in turn be a blessing to others in the coming year.

Rev Julia Curtis

 


Rector
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