An apology, an update, and a story

First the apology: It’s all been pretty quiet on here for a while. That’s partly because we’ve moved house, I’ve started a new job, and I’m frantically trying to finish my PhD. It’s also partly because I’m a lazy blogger. However, about 7 or 8 months on from our move we’re pretty settled in now, and I even have some clue what I’m doing with my job, so hopefully blogging may become a bit more regular.

Then the update: Just for the record, we’re now in North Nottinghamshire, just outside Retford, where I’m working as a Team Vicar and Pioneer Minister in the Retford Area Team Ministry. The boys are settled into a local primary school (where I’m the vicar – so cue lots of embarrassing ‘Daddy’s doing your assembly today’ moments for the next few years), Leah’s exploring options for ministry locally, and Miriam is spending most of her time demonstrating that she is by far the bravest, most athletic and chattiest of our children, and making sure her big brothers realise that she is, in fact, in charge. I’m 30% vicar of two vast rural parishes which straddle the A1 and comprise mainly farmland, with two BCP churches. And then I’m 70% pioneer with responsibility for developing fresh expressions across the whole team ministry (which is an area that stretches from the borders of Worksop to the Lincolnshire border, centred on Retford). More on all that some other time, but suffice it to say that I’m getting on well with my colleagues and parishioners.

Finally, a story. The vicarage we’ve moved into has a vast field-like garden out the back. It’s several sizes bigger than anything we’ve had to look after before, though thankfully it is mainly grass (with lovely beds of nettles all round the edges…). Anyway, one of the first things we noticed about it was that right in the middle is a tree stump. And not a pleasantly aged rustic tree stump. A bit of an eyesore, made worse by the fact that it was burnt. It seems that the tenants who had been in the house previously had decided to have bonfires on top of it. So we cleared off the ash and remnants of junk and the weeds that had grown over the top of it. And then it grew a shoot. Now, I’m a vicar, so finding potential sermons in things like this is second nature, and I happily took pictures of the shoot and wrote sermons in my head about new life and shoots rising up from the stump of Jesse. Then the boys played too close to it and it broke and died. There’s probably still morals that could be drawn from this story but I think the thing it reminded me most was that perhaps gardens do not exist simply to provide neat sermon illustrations…