PEW NEWS June 2020
The best-laid plans ...
I chose to write the Minister's Letter for this month, thinking I would be leaving you at the end of the month, and that it would give me an opportunity to say "Good bye", or "We'll meet again", or such things. I was going to be ordained in Canterbury Cathedral on the last Saturday of this month, a great and glorious celebration with loved ones and many dear friends present. Then we would have had a lovely tea party and I would have swanned off to Benenden and Sandhurst for my three years of Curacy. That was the plan...
The reality now is of course that the Cathedral is closed. The Ordination is postponed, provisionally to 27 September. Who knows if any relatives or friends will be allowed to be present? Especially those from Overseas? But – I might still be leaving you at the end of this month, although not with a fanfare, but with a small wave and a faint smile... or not? It all depends. If there are physical church services taking place by the start of July, then I will be going to my new parishes, not as an ordained Deacon, but as a lay worker. Not in a 'dog collar', but in 'civvies', so to speak. If not, I might be with you a bit longer. Funny old world.
I don't want to compare myself to Jesus. Don't think I would come off very well. But He was also leaving his friends, as he led them out to Bethany on the original Ascension Day. I wonder what He was thinking, as he walked the last bit of road, pondering how he was going to say His farewell. They of course had no idea this was the last few minutes they were to spend together. Who could have foreseen that He would be taken up to heaven? In the end, all He did was bless them. Or so says the Gospel of Luke. In Acts, also written by Luke, we get a little bit more information of that last conversation. There we learn, that Jesus promises them that they will be given the Holy Spirit and become His witnesses to the whole world, but starting with Jerusalem, where they are.
And that is a commission that stands for all time. Ascension Day carries on. We are the descendants of those friends of Jesus. We are his witnesses, being sent out. I am being sent to Benenden and Sandhurst. You might be sent to your neighbours, to your work colleagues, to the woman behind the counter in Sainsbury. But wherever we go, we go with His blessing.
That is one of the parts of being a priest that I am most looking forward to. Being able to bless. But of course, that is not even this year! Only next year, when I'm priested, will I finally be able to bless. As a Deacon I will be able to do many things, many of which I can do already. Preach. Lead services. Do youth work. Take funerals. So, where is the difference? Why bother with three years of study, followed by three years of Curacy?
It's the dog collar of course, stupid! I am both tremendously looking forward to, and am in trepidation of the idea of wearing this stiff piece of white plastic. Will it change me? I think, both yes and no. It will certainly change how I am perceived. And this is one of the reasons I need to leave you. Because we know each other too well. I need to go somewhere where I can just be the Curate. The trainee Vicar. The apprentice. Where I can learn and make mistakes, but where no one knows me from before.
I very much hope I go with your blessing. I certainly leave you with mine. Even if, for now, if is just the ordinary, non-collared, but deeply heartfelt type. I will return, sooner or later, I am sure, as a fully fledged Vicar. And then it will be a special pleasure to be able to properly bless you, just like Jesus did. God bless!
Readings for June
7th June Trinity Sunday Isaiah 40. 12 – 17, 27 – end 2 Cor. 13. 11 - end Matt. 28. 16 - 20
14th June Trinity 1 Genesis 18. 1 – 15 (21. 1 -7) Romans 5. 1 – 8 Matt. 9.35–10. 8
21st June Trinity 2 Genesis 21. 8 - 21 Romans 6. 1b - 11 Matt. 10. 24 - 39
28th June Trinity 3 Genesis 22. 1 - 14 Romans 6. 12 - end Matt. 10. 40 - end
Annette Christine EPPS
Annette died on Friday 24th April 2020 aged 73.
Her funeral service took place at
Charing Crematorium, followed by burial in Westwell cemetery,
on Thursday 21st May 2020.
May God enfold Annette in his tender love and care.