This month I will have the joy, I hope, of celebrating 25 years of priestly ministry. What a time it has been. Having served in five parishes, three in this Diocese and two in Portsmouth, I feel truly blessed indeed. Those blessings come from having had the opportunity of walking together with other pilgrims on a shared journey of exploration, encouraging and being encouraged, praying and listening not only to each other but to God. It has not always been easy, but life without its ups and downs, as I tell wedding couples, would be bland indeed!
The privilege of celebrating the eucharist, preaching and interceding is at the heart of priestly life; the eucharist is a profound wonder, where heaven and earth intersect, as the word of God in broken bread and wine outpoured. What a privilege, what a joy! As Henri Nouwen puts so succinctly, ‘Joy is essential to spiritual life. Whatever we may think or say about God, when we are not joyful, our thoughts and words cannot bear fruit. Jesus reveals to us God’s love so that his joy may become ours and that our joy may become complete. Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing—sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death—can take that love away.’
I hope that as we cautiously emerge from lockdown, assuming we can, we will reflect not only upon this past year, but will give thanks to God for all his many blessings upon us all.
In the words of St Richard of Chichester:
‘Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which you have given us, for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us. O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, follow you more nearly, day by day.’
Of your charity keep praying for me, as I do for you.