HomeFr Kevin writes...

Yours faithfully…?

Dear Friends,

You will have seen the scaffolding being erected around the south side St Paul's church. This is to enable repair to the pinnacles. Later projects remain: the renovation of the north porch and tower, clock and bells: all necessary to maintain our glorious building as a place of inspiration, worship, welcome and outreach to Bedford and beyond.

However, some fabric projects can become a trap. Someone once said, "Show me a middle-aged vicar, and I'll show you a building project!" I smiled wryly. The real legacy of a priest's ministry is the forming of Christ in others' lives, but it is often hidden and intangible and success is difficult to measure. So, maybe it's understandable why some vicars find fabric projects irresistible! Human egos invariably want recognition of success, of which bricks and mortar provide a permanent memorial. We should all perhaps have the humility to acknowledge that seeking such flattery of egos is not necessarily confined to the ordained!

However, someone else said, "God looks not so much for success but for faithfulness." That has stuck with me for years. Now that the Eastertide champagne has flattened, the church frontals and vestments turn to green for the long four months of Ordinary Time. As green is a sign of the steady growth in nature, so this ‘green season' calls us to a faithful, daily living out of the gospel, in an often unspectacular, steady plod. Christian living and ministry is not a sprint but a marathon.

When I first became an incumbent, sensing my eagerness and impatience, my Rural Dean gave me the best advice. He said, "Kevin, there is time. It doesn't all have to be done at once."

We continue to live with Covid, and rates of infection have begun to climb. Many people are still exhausted and recovering from the trauma of the past two years and we struggle to find volunteers to help. Angela Tilby writing recently in the Church Times, said, "If I were in parish ministry now, I would not be wanting to implement big plans or shiny new initiatives." No, indeed. We need to give ourselves time.

While we at St Paul's are still in recovery, we are doing well in rebuilding our core activities, ministries and services; we have also refreshed our vision, Mission Action Plan and our sense of purpose. Might I suggest that this ‘green season' is a wonderful opportunity for each of us to take time out to renew our relationship with God and with each other?

The church fabric work is an apt metaphor of our need to repair, renovate and restore the fabric of our personal and communal spiritual life. May we this Summer and Autumn, take time and, using the scaffolding of worship, Bible reading and prayer, allow ourselves, like living stones…(to) be built into a spiritual house," not seeking success for its own sake but by being faithful and living faithfully... for Jesus' sake.

With my love and prayers,

Fr Kevin.