12 days

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The parish of St Barnabas Little Ilford 

This is my 12th day as the priest here at St Barnabas.

Everything is still new … life here is soooo different than anywhere else I have experienced life up to now.

One difference that I like is that the High Street wakes up later and rests later … so much later …. I could even get a haircut here at midnight if I wanted to! (no unkind jokes now!)

The streets are still pretty vibrant at 10pm at night and the variety and quality of food is pretty stunning. There are plenty of other differences too …. all which seems to feed, or breed, a certain personal vibrancy that I can feel is retuning.

So … these 12 days have been mainly full of listening. I have met people in the church and we have chatted about things we think St Barnabas is good at and may be called to be involved in. Poverty is a major ‘in your face’ reality here. In my last post it was obviously present but hidden … there is no hiding here and I am close to tears when I see so many people clearly sleeping in doorways, under trees, in churchyards …. wherever there is shelter. I don’t want to get political … but a government I voted for a while back virtually eliminated homelessness …..  it’s back and looks worse than it did under the Thatcher regime.

So maybe we will discover from God that our mission is to be involved in poverty in some way …. or maybe we will discover something else as we continue this journey of listening and hearing and trying to discern what God is doing.

I am merely focusing us and asking,

‘What is it that God doing here … whatever it is, lets join in!’

That’s a Rob translation of (ex) Archbishop Rowan’s gem of a quote!

In these 12 days I have also met a few people from the community and some of my fellow vicar colleagues. Today it was amazing to visit the Trinity Centre and have a chat with Paul, the Operations Director,  about all the amazing stuff that is going on there and the incredible heritage that it comes from. As I left Paul very kindly gave me a gift of New Londoners, an amazing photo story book written and photographed by young refugees. It is a beautiful book which is an indication of the beauty and love that may be found in this area.

As I look ahead, after 12 days, I am often daunted at the tease, sometimes scared, usually excited … but always aware that I am one small cog in this story that was being travelled and will continue long after  have gone ….. and in reality, for now, for me …. that leaves me with a lot more prayer walking (if anyone fancies joining me …. we can have a great lunch after!) and listening to people.

This could take a while.

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