The placement seems to be flying by and I am now at the mid-way point. I’ve met new people and look forward to working with them on some creative stuff, especially for the evening of Palm Sunday where we have a fairly open remit to produce a eucharist service including a reading of the passion gospel. I’m looking forward to working with some creative people on this.
In the community I have visited residential homes and presided at eucharists in a hospice – which I found to be both an incredibly moving and humbling experience. I remember thinking that I hope my faith and hope in God would be as gentle and gracious as it was in the people I served should I be in the same life situation.
During the week I also attended a eucharist that regularly happens in someones home on one of the local estates. The setting of a table in someones front room with Alan robed to preside at communion felt quite strange … but right! This service is held for people on the estate who can’t get to church on a Sunday. They want a short traditional communion service (with a sermon!) and this is what the church gives. Responding to local need and opportunity is something that St Stephens seems to be pretty good at.
Someone asked me what I am learning … I’m not sure that is the right question! I am rediscovering gifts (such as being creative for Sunday services) that I have simply put on hold for a little while as there has been no obvious lace for them in a cathedral setting.
One observation I do have of parish life is that there is little time to breathe, think and engage with the community in thinking ahead and wondering what next! It is a battle (personal battle not a battle with anyone) to keep oversight of the gathering and maintain relationships in the community that have sprung up in Rohester over the last few years and do the parish stuff. The parish is busy and there are parish things to do most of the time. I am managing to still be in places but it is not as often …. so that side of my ministry is suffering in some way. That, in my opinion, is why the church decided to train priests for a different role which is not parish based. They call this pioneer ministry although I have grown to dislike the term as I don’t think it’s understood that well.
So I guess I have learnt (if that is the correct term) that this experience is confirming quite majorly in my mind that I am called to work with those outside the church … whether that is pioneer or based somewhere or whatever …. my calling, where I feel God wants me, is to serve those in the community, to be good news in the community and supporting and helping in whatever way that means.