Summer is usually a time for relaxing and kicking back. That is certainly how it is presented in the popular mind. Think of all those images of beach holidays and people relaxing in their gardens whilst barbecues are tended in the background. Those of us who live in Britain also know, of course, that such is the changeable nature of the weather that often those holidays and barbecues are a wash-out.
I do hope we all get some space to enjoy some sunny and pleasant weather this summer. As many of you will know, I generally hope that – for me at least – August is usually a quieter and more reflective time when I can enjoy creation. Let’s hope we have some pleasant weather!
At the same time, this summer is an exciting one for St Nick’s. I’m delighted that the Rev’d Andrew Bennison shall be joining us in July as our new stipendiary curate. He shall introduce himself to you in due course I’m sure, but a few headlines: he knows the northwest well, having grown up in Wilmslow, but has spent much of his adult life down south, either up at Oxford or in London. He is a very gifted young man who will stimulate our community in all sorts of ways. Fr Alan will remain part of our team, moving in due course to become an Associate Priest rather than Assistant Curate.
In my conversations with Andrew ahead of his arrival, I tried to impress on him that ministry, just like wider church life, is a marathon and not a sprint. Despite our relatively small size, St Nick’s can be a very busy place and I’m keen that all of us – Rector, Curates, Church Wardens and the wider laity – never lose sight of the need for space, relaxation and prayerful reflection.
‘Spaciousness’ is a key concept in biblical thought. The Hebrew word for salvation includes ‘spaciousness’ as one of its key meanings. Salvation is, in biblical thought, often a place where one can breathe. Thus, the importance of The Promised Land. It is a land of milk and honey where people have space and can breathe.
For those of us who live in cities, the air can sometimes be so polluted it can be a struggle to gain one’s breath! Sometimes we simply have to get out of the city. Of course, that’s not always easy. We have to find other ways to find ‘holiday’ (which itself derives from ‘holy day’). One of the key ways which all of us can practice ‘holy day’ is through prayer. Please pray for Andrew as he settles in with us, and for me as his training incumbent. Pray for Alan as he becomes Associate Priest. Pray for the parish as we discern the way ahead together. Pray for each other, especially those who you might struggle to get along with. Jesus asks us to do so. Thereby, God will refresh and renew us in prayer.