A letter from Rev Jules, Priest in Charge of St Blaise, Luxulyan and Boscoppa
As you may or may not have gathered I have been on sabbatical over the last 3 months. In that time not one of my 3 churches has had the decency to have a huge crisis that made them feel I was indispensable!!!
And then I read April’s edition of this magazine and I discovered that I was even less important than I thought. I mean, seriously, the wonderful Father Barry said everything we need to remember about Easter and Marie’s letter reminded me of what I already knew - that she knows the bible far better than I do. Well, I thought to myself, I have one gift that they’ll never have… the ability to watch vast amount of children’s films and find the connection with Christ. And then, to add insult to injury, I find a fantastic little paragraph about my favourite film: “How to train your dragon”. Even my niche subject has been hijacked!
As I write St Blazey parish church met for the first time in a while for in-person services last Sunday. It was so nice to see my church family after a 3 month sabbatical and everyone warmly welcomed me back. One lady, who shall remain nameless(!) has a busy, crucial job in the NHS and she quite rightly said to me “That’s what I need, I need a sabbatical”. And I’m inclined to agree! We all need a little bit of time and space sometimes and one of the things I appreciated most about my time of reading, praying and reflecting was that it gave me some perspective. Not just on my ministerial career, but on me as a person, as a Christian and as someone with a purpose in life.
My curacy was spent in St Agnes parish with the wonderful Alan Bashforth as my training incumbent (aka boss). Our previous Bishop, Bishop Tim said to Alan 12 years ago now “There is something about your career background that makes me think you will be able to handle this curate I need to place, Jules.” Alan asked “My background as a nurse or as a policeman?” Bishop Tim replied “Both.”
Well like most good policemen Alan had a trove of excellent little sayings he’d picked up. Many of them are very funny but unrepeatable, all of them have stuck in my mind. Here’s a couple Anne will be able to publish!
“A policeman without a pen, is like a fairy without a wand.”
“Remember the 5 ‘P’s’ Proper preparation prevents poor performance”
“You can only be martyred once”.
“The graveyard is full of irreplaceable people”
It’s the latter two that so many of us need to hear. Identity is a tricky thing and its easy to get wrapped up in the world’s thinking that our value is in what we do, or in our status or what other people think of us. We could probably all name people who put themselves forward for jobs and roles both inside the church and out of it because they want to feel important. Well, if my sabbatical has taught me something its that my value has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my title, my qualifications, my part on this or that committee or my ability to watch children’s films. It certainly doesn’t come from being a Vicar. The final word on what I am worth was declared on Good Friday and signed on Easter Sunday. I am a child of God worth dying for. And so are you.
I guess I’m writing this with 2 kinds of people in mind:
It may be that you’re not a very secure person. You have come to believe that the more you do and the harder you work and the more you control, the more you will be valued. I hope you are able to hear and understand that you are loved just exactly as you are. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more and nothing you can do to make God love you less.
And then there may be others reading this who are feeling powerless. Perhaps as you’ve got older you can do less than you used to be able to do and you are feeling frustrated. There are no easy answers but can I encourage you to ask God what you can do? Could you phone those who are lonely? Pray for your community? Could you tell someone you love how much you appreciate them? I know it all sounds rather simple and perhaps even trite but all of us are blessed when all of us use the opportunities we do have, rather than lament the ones we do not.
May you know today how loved and precious you are.