Sunday, July 10, 2011

And now the end is near...

...but still to come, the final curtain.

Though some fat ladies are singing. The Rejects are done with me. I have feasted with my wonderful quiz team one final time, after one final victory at the Bunch. Steve & I were the only ones who turned up for that quiz - & Steve was nervous. I told him to man up. Winning attitude, that's all it takes.

That's all it took. I shall miss the quizzes, but more the friendships of this group of bearded blokes. Never again do I expect to know so many experts in Sanskrit in so confined a space.

As I prepare to move away from full time parochial ministry, it was both an odd and a pleasurable experience to be a supporting cleric for Clare Hayns as she was ordained at Christ Church Oxford last week. I was best man at John & Clare's wedding many, many moons ago. I am godfather to their eldest. We have had many phone calls discussing theological essays over the past few years. John & Clare's friendship is one of the fixed points of my life. Seeing her ordained (from rather a good seat, I must say) was a total joy. And John will make an excellent vicar's wife - he can make a sponge cake appear out of nowhere in no time flat. No really. He's a member of the magic circle.

And it gives everyone the chance to see that (just occasionally) I do don the odd item of clerical garb myself. Actually, the cassock & scarf are Rob Graham's. I keep them for special occasions.

I was reminded the night before Clare's service of an event three and a half year's back, when being dressed like this had a particularly helpful effect. And also made for one of the funniest occasions of my time here in Ponty. Thanks Chris for bringing that back to mind: Irish scaffolders downing tools on a particularly gloomy morning with the cry "The Father says stop!" will stay with me for a long time. That it was over the construction of the neighbouring car park is even more pleasing... And I managed to use the story this morning in preaching on John 13, which passage was read at Clare's ordination. My usual illustration is of a man with a pepper grinder. Scaffolders & priests made a good alternative. The point held, and was one I wanted to make again before finishing. It's one of the key things I'd like people to remember here.

To remember. When I am gone. In the morning the removal men come. I will be back next weekend for my final services, but in between I am moving up to Leeds. Going, and coming back. A bit like Jesus, only I'm doing a house sale.

And without the help of the megastars who are David & Clare MacInnes it would be impossible to be ready. David & Clare came to stay for a couple of days last week & transformed the house into a state of readiness for the move. I am eternally grateful. More friends who have been a constant in my life for longer than I can recall. More friendship displayed than I could possibly deserve.

So, the list is almost complete. Farewells are being said. It is happening. The future is arriving, pushing its way into the present, making today fade into yesterday. I am touched by the kindness and good wishes I am receiving from many, and can only hope that I may yet have time to bless my friends here as I am still being blessed.

In God's economy, you must always give away what you want to keep.

Though if you are doing a house sale, I think selling books at 50p for soft backs and £1 for hard backs is also fair. Saturday next, 2pm. There's furniture too...

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