Welcome to tales of a parish priest in deepest Sussex! The glories of the Church of England! Sometimes you feel like the Mayor as the only resident professional with, in my case, a Horsted Keynes tag. Other times you feel like a prophet on the side lines as you play to Christian identity in a post Christian scene.
Nevertheless this month saw 500, a quarter of our population, singing Shine Jesus Shine as we held our Jubilee Beacon service on the village green. Earlier in the weekend church was packed for a coronation re-enactment by the school and the Sunday all age eucharist was well supported.
There are few places in Britain with the cohesion of this village. The Horsted Keynes Jubilee Committee worked for a year for our village day which included a fun run, treasure hunt, scrap heap challenge, beer race, tug-of-war, tea party, procession from church, beacon service, hog roast and barn dance finale. As parish priest I served on the committee which is receiving loads of credit after the event for a day that must have involved most resident villagers.
As parish priest I need discernment about which of the forty or so village organisations I involve myself with so that my time is best used given the necessary pastoral, liturgical, teaching and administrative work of a priest.
Many things press urgently upon a parish priest and his people. Time is needed to discern from among the things that are merely urgent the things that are important before God in our particular situation. As we attend to them we find a way of peace and a way of blessing.
The secret of a fulfilled life, or a fulfilled church, is to find and to hold on to the life-line of God’s agenda, rather than drown in a sea of endless expectations that are put upon you from outside your situations.
Out of 2000 villagers I have a flock of 60 every Sunday at two eucharists, swelling to 100 on Feasts, 200 at Easter and 400 at Christmas. As former diocesan mission and renewal adviser I was placed in a place where I can have a little time to serve Christian apologetics for Chichester Diocese, work with Premier and do some writing when commissioned as in Meet Jesus (BRF 2011).
As a leader I am aware of the need to affirm and draw out volunteers to lead in church and community, as in the Jubilee Committee. This will be one background concern I’ll have at our church vision day next month – more on that to come!