I don’t know if I'm peculiar in this (I said "in this", ok?) , but I tend to find that being away from the parish makes me notice all the things I wish were different, the relationships that I find challenging, the habits of mind or practice that seem unhelpful.
It works on a personal level too, of course. I always come back from retreat with a raft of new resolutions, plans and hopes – this time I’ve even written a “to do” list (which experience suggests it would be unwise to publish) in an attempt to use my energies as positively as I can. Being given the gift of time to spend with God, I become aware of how easy it is to let that primary relationship get crowded out even as I engage in all sorts of activities that should have God's name running through to their very core.
So I took a long and hard look at myself and my own situation, and then turned the same scrutiny on the life of St M’s. By about Thursday night I had decided that things were pretty ropy there…
But then, of course, it was time to come home and this morning I presided at the Eucharist .
J was making his First Communion, so his warm and wonderful family was out in force.
R, knee-high to the organist, was admitted as a full member of the choir, with all the attendant delight of choir and congregation.
And standing on the chancel steps I could see so many dear and friendly faces – and I realised once again the privilege of serving, for the moment, God’s people in this place.
This community, warts and all, is the setting where I'm to try to retell Christ's story in my own life.
This community is the framework in which my ministry has meaning, as we work out the narrative together.
This community is the place where my priesthood can be articulated, as I gather up its concerns and offer them at the altar.
I know I'll move on in a little while, - a prospect that is almost as exciting as it is daunting,- but actually it’s quite OK being here for now. It's what I'm for.