Vicar’s Letter July & August

Dear Friends

And now faith, hope and love abide, these three:

and the greatest of these is LOVE       I Corinthians 13 v13

 I continue with the thumbnail sketch of my life journey in faith and hope and love.  In my first week here, in March 2012, I had an empty In-Tray and Inbox; that doesn’t happen nowadays!  And so I decided to walk around the village in my dog-collar, hoping people would say ‘hello’.  And you did!  I believe that first week set me up for my years of ministry among you.  I felt the warmth of your welcome from the start, and that has never diminished.  Thank you for that love shown to me at the very start of my ministry.

At my Licensing service, the Bishop said these solemn words:

Receive this cure of souls which is both yours and mine.

In other words, the work of a parish priest is not just to the people who attend church, but to carry the ‘care of everyone’ in their hearts.  It has been a great joy and privilege to be alongside some of you in those rites of passage – baptism, weddings, funerals, and also to listen to your stories in the street, in your homes, or in the quietness of my study.  Thank you for the love you have shown to me in these moments of trusting yourself to my care.

John and I have had some great fun with you along the way.  Thank you for those happy memories.

Faith, hope and love are known as the three ‘theological virtues’ because they are gifts from God to us.  They are the channel by which we humans can relate to God, and how God relates to us.  In the Son/Father relationship Jesus had with God, he exemplifies how these qualities deepen that relationship with God, and with one another: in his faith in God the Father even on the cross, in his hope of an eternal life with God, and in his many teachings of love which ask that our love for one another should reflect God’s love for us. Jesus summarised the ten commandments of the Old Testament into just two:  Love God and Love your neighbour as yourself.

And so I leave this parish into the care of others during this vacancy, but I have faith that God is already raising up the next person to receive the cure of souls in this parish; in the hope that the church and community groups will come back to life as the well-springs of post-lockdown Groombridge; and in love – for Groombridge will always have a very special place in my heart, and in John’s;  thank you for making our nine years here so very special. With every blessing, and much love,  Sharon