Chaplain’s Blog Stardate 02:07:2022

                     Saturday July 2nd 2022

Chaplain’s Blog 02-07-2022

I am hoping that next week might be a time of taking a step back and reflecting on the busy times of previous months, but as in all these high hopes things turn up that must be done, or that cannot be avoided – or they are things we just want to do even when we should be saying, “no”

However with Ministers in Conversation on Monday morning  and story telling sessions at a local primary school on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings it might be tricky!

On Thursday I am seeing my spiritual director over a cup of coffee and on Thursday afternoon I have booked a ministerial review using the new format to produce a work agreement. Probably very little will change from what I do know but it is good to be able to look back and take stock.  

As we have a new curate, I have suggested that they should be there for the meeting because it is a good learning opportunity for him to see how a review might be done as part and parcel of the work of the ministry team. 

If working in teams is the way of the future and we are certainly “on the Way” to that with fewer stipendiary clergy in charge of ever more churches, then training for incumbents needs to include all the tools for leadership and people management as much as theology!  The community of licensed lay ministers has a responsibility to help and support here as far as our abilities and energies will allow. We must play our part in being encouraging, enabling, and empowering, fostering the vocations in others, and supporting those who take on leadership roles. (Even if that support sometimes means a tricky conversation as a critical friend)

Last Thursday some brave souls came forward to selection for training for Licensed Lay Ministry and as always, it was a privilege to listen and hear their stories and then to be part of the team / panel to decide the next part of their ministerial path.  In general, we have fewer people coming forward, and certainly few faithful folk under the age of 50 (or even 60) which means that the number of readers is decreasing overall and the average age is increasing year by year. As there will be fewer clergy, there will be fewer Readers but hopefully those in post will be energetic and committed team players.

Work Agreement-ministerial review template final May 22


Back to that work agreement form!  A reader suggested to me the other week that once someone was a “Reader” that they were always a Reader…. In much the same way as a Priest is always a priest even if they cease to operate as one. I disagree, and certainly the wording on the work agreement template would support my opinion,

We understand a Reader to be ‘A Lay Minister working under episcopal licence and in agreement with their incumbent, theologically trained and qualified to preach, teach, lead church services and interpret the Christian faith, and to offer pastoral care in the name of the church to people in sickness and in health, in dying and bereavement. They assist in mobilising fellow laity for mission and helping to grow disciples of Jesus Christ.’

If a Reader is no longer licensed and working as part of an Anglican ministry team, then they are no longer a reader until they reapply for a license.  Too much is made of titles for identity.  I was a teacher for many many years, and I still feel like a teacher, especially when I am story telling in schools, but I am retired and cannot claim, nor want to claim that I am a teacher- that is for those young, committed folk with energy – I am an ‘ex-teacher’!   Does my identity rely on whether I am a Reader, a licensed Lay Minister or a chaplain? Frankly they are only words to help others know why I am doing a particular task…. When it is time to hang up my blue scarf, I shall not be hanging on to the epithet like an old Major who needs the title to prove he should be in charge of a parochial church council!

Please have a look at the work agreement form, and if you have not already done so, have a go at filling it in! Better still, arrange an annual chat with your incumbent and go through it together.  It was very good for me to list all the facets of my ministry and to reflect on the things that had been ‘particularly life giving’ and the ‘particularly challenging!’

We have a Warden’s Group meeting coming up on the 19th so if there are things you think we should hear or consider please let me know!

The annual return form will be sent out shortly – please do your best to fill it in and send it back even if you have to make an informed guess at how many times you preached or read the gospel.

I have a meeting with Ruth and Mel at Church House on the 11th to talk about admin matters, reminders for training and licensing and lists. I know tha some of you have dropped off lists  for one reason or another – if you need anything sorted please do let me know or if you have a problem or issue with getting communications… 

122 CV                    Thought for the Day – St.Thomas and Trinity III


                                                                 Didymus Jnr

 Evensong Readings:

Job ch,42, vv1-6

1 Peter ch.1, vv3-12


I suppose I had better come clean.  I have had a birthday, on St.Peter’s day, and I have to accept that I am a year older.  I have received cards from both family and friends, and I take this opportunity to thank those dear friends that sent their greetings.


Yes, and I am little nearer taking the hand of Jesus that reaches out to us on such occasions.  Having remembered my namesake, I must now remember my pseudonym’s ancestor.  Like Peter, Thomas had his faults, and in his future life he too, would have had cause to hold his head and groan “How on earth could I have said that”?

The great hymnwriter, Isaac Watts, was a wise and clever man not only skilled in music and poetry, but in theology and logic as well.  He overflowed with faith and music, having written over 600 hymns.  What a teacher!

Watts had summed up old age in the memorable hymn which says:-

“Time, like an ever-rolling stream,

Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.”

Old age is a matter of mind over an ageing body.  Of course life is more painful and one bends the day and its routine to minimise that pain.  Less gets done.  One does not look forward, rather back, to memories which will bore younger generations stiff.  Even though they may be polite, our memories will be foreign to them, a world of pencils. pens and notepads rather than smartphones and laptops.  What fascinated us – our first car, the ability to reach distant family members by telephone, travelling abroad – is taken for granted by today’s generations.  They, like us, reach for the future standing on the shoulders metaphorically of earlier generations.  They too, will be boring when their turn comes. 

Memories encourage fellow ancient crustaceans to look back at their lives and share their thoughts.  It is good to look back, to see how life has changed and in many respects improved.  I can remember seeing a steam lorry delivering coal and coke, horses and carts, the travelling knife and scissors sharpener on his cycle, helping the milkman and much more, but I must not become a bore as well.

But as Watts observed, time does not stand still.  It is, as an ever-rolling stream, constantly changing, and we need to fasten on to the wonder of the moment before it passes – an amazing sunset, a freshly mown field*, a clear starry night, a lively sea, wonderful clouds, trees, animals, a view, and more, much more of God’s wonderful Creation.  It is a moment of Carpe Diem, to seize the moment and to absorb its beauty and magic ere it disappears into time’s rolling stream.

(*Sorry about the hay fever – Ed),

We should not forget people either, the pleasure of meeting family or friends, activities, occasions – all these will go from us.  The memories of dear relatives and friends no longer seen but fondly remembered.  The young chorister whose singing transfixed a cathedral service has croaked the way into a deeper adult voice.  The young athlete who ran, jumped and swam, has travelled into middle age where such things are less easy when pushing a pram or digging the garden.  Now he or she rumbles along the pavement on a mobility scooter.  And so on.  Life does this to us.  The ease with which we can capture the moment with a camera of phone and then share it is a great help.  Families and friends thousands of miles apart can share pictures at the touch of a phone pad.

St.Thomas, the original Didymus, was one of the twelve Apostles, Disciples of Jesus Christ.  We know a little about him, that his name was “twin”, and he came from Galilee.  Twin with whom we don’t know, but maybe a sister?  Pieter Paul Rubens’ painting of Thomas is here.

What little we know of Thomas in the Gospels stands to his credit, except the famous occasion when he refused to believe his ten colleagues.  Jesus had appeared before them, but Thomas, on rejoining them could or would not believe them. 

Just think about what Thomas was being invited to believe for a moment.  Nobody had been asked that before.  In the modern vernacular, were they having a laugh at Thomas just because he had been out at the wrong time?  Who knows?

When Jesus returned later to demonstrate his injuries to Thomas, the latter’s confession of faith in Jesus was absolute.  Thomas addressed Jesus as “My Lord and my God”.  Although divinity was implied, Thomas was alone in addressing Jesus as God.

Thomas went east from Israel, as far as India and preached there, where he is regarded by some as the patron saint of India.  His name is given to the famous teaching hospital at Waterloo, SW London and of course more than a few churches and chapels.  We give thanks for him despite his humanity.


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