As part of our Wednesday reflections, the Vicar, Graeme, is thinking back over the last year on what he is thankful for…
In a previous career, I travelled the world for business. Although I wasn’t gifted with multilingual capabilities I thought it was important to learn a little of the local language. I always set myself the task of learning a list:
Hello, Goodbye, Please, Thank you and ‘Another beer’.
Another beer please: Une autre bière s’il vous plait, en annen øl takk, noch ein Bier bitte. In Finland I asked for the word for ‘please’ and my host looked at me blankly for a bit and then said, “We don’t have a word for please, we just ask more politely”. A quick bit of google-fu and I learn there are an estimated 6500 languages in the world. Although there are only 60 million people in the UK there are 360 million people who speak English. A little more googling and I was able to create a word cloud of the word “thanks” weighted by the number of people able to speak the language.
This is the Harvest Festival season and churches all over the country are working with schools to have harvest related celebrations, sing traditional songs – or maybe even the “Harvest Samba” (which is perhaps becoming my favourite song of all time – move over Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds).
Being thankful for the harvest begs the question, “what is the harvest”. It gets me thinking, in the last year what have been the fruits of my labours? There are two ways of looking at this.
- Like a child coming home from school and holding up my work to my parents saying, “Look what I did!”
- Like an adult Christian, holding up my work before God and saying, “God, you made all this possible!”
God you made all this possible:
- Thank you God for the interview one year ago, in October 2019, and for the invitation to come to Marsden and Slaithwaite to be the Vicar for a while.
- Thank you for the Curacy I had in St Helen’s Church, Welton with Melton outside Hull, for the growth in knowledge and love of you that came to me from my time with the church community there.
- Thank you for the Prayer & Breakfast group and the growth in their spirituality and leadership.
- Thank you for the Baptism Team and those who reach out to families with a message of God’s love.
- Thank you for Messy Church and all we learned about a different way of being church.
- Thank you for all those I was able to be alongside in the grief of death.
- Thank you for all those I celebrated marriages with.
- Thank you for the schools ministry, and the joy of assemblies and children singing.
- Thank you for the Diocese of York and all the training I received, for the funding to complete my degree in Theology, Ministry and Mission.
- Thank you for the Diocese of Leeds, the grant to move house, and for all the work to modernise the Slaithwaite Vicarage before we arrived.
- Thank you for the friendships I made in East Yorkshire and the mixed emotions of parting ways.
- Thank you for the joy of Beer & Carols in the pub
- Thank you for the warm welcome to Slaithwaite and Marsden, for a place to call home and a place to minister as I am, not as I’m not.
- Thank you for the Churchwardens, Treasurers, Sidespeople, Flower Arrangers, Cleaners, Cake Bakers, Singers, Musicians and local community who came together on the 18th February to welcome my family and I to the Colne Valley.
- Thank you for the chance to dance at the Moonraker Celiah.
- Thank you for the Lent Course we started.
Then Cornoavirus arrived and we stopped…
- Thank you for the opportunity to use my one bit of daily exercise to cycle around the villages praying for those physically isolated in their homes.
- Thank you for the stories of faith I began to receive and the permission to share them on this website
- Thank you that I was here in time to be the Vicar, and to offer comfort in time of bereavement.
- Thank you for the Electoral Roll register of addresses so that I could write to everyone in the Churches.
- Thank you for the way Holy Communion at home changed the way I pray for the whole community of Marsden, Slaithwaite and the surrounding countryside.
- Thank you for the long conversations from the end of garden paths and the chance to get to know people better.
- Thank you for the Holy Week reflections on this website and the responses they generated.
- Thank you for the telephone as a way to connect with others.
- Thank you for zoom clergy meetings and for the letters of support from Bishop Nick.
- Thank you for the PCCs of St Bartholomew’s, St James’ and Shred who carried out risk assessments for coronavirus in church.
- Thank you for all those who regularly clean our churches to keep them covid-safe.
- Thank you we are able to offer services of Holy Communion in person again.
- Thank you that we have services online, offline and in person.
- Thank you for all those who play music in church to help us worship.
- Thank you for the local community groups that have welcomed me, like Marsden Racers even though I haven’t been able to cycle as much as I’d like.
- Thank you for all the local businesses and the chance to pray for them while their doors were shut.
- Thank you for the community support groups which popped up to help vulnerable people, including many who go to church.
- Thank you for the schools and the massive role they had in combining education with health and well-being of isolated children and families.
- Thank you for local Funeral Directors and everything done to help people mourn despite restrictions.
- Thank you for Weddings starting again and the joy this brings to couples.
- Thank you for the conversations I get to have about you, God.
- Thank you for rest, for Sabbath and for holidays and holy days, and for inviting us into your presence.
- Thank you for Shred meeting physically distanced and outdoors to share stories and prayers.
- Thank you for the technology to have Archdeacon’s meetings and to film talks and videos to support the church and community.
- Thank you for volunteers giving generously of their time to film Remembrance Sunday in advance.
- Thank you for the generosity of the people of Marsden to support their historic and crumbling church building.
- Thank you for new friends.
Dearest God, you did all this. You have invited me to be me. Not to be someone else. You have invited me to be here. Not to be somewhere else. You have supported me and my family. You have given me the words to say. You have given me this ministry and you have given me the honour of being with people as they mourn, or as they celebrate a Wedding. God you did all this. The fruits of the harvest are all yours.
Have you considered making your own list?
1 Chronicles 29:11-18
Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Riches and honour come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might; and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all. And now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your glorious name.
‘But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill-offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are aliens and transients before you, as were all our ancestors; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you search the heart, and take pleasure in uprightness; in the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our ancestors, keep for ever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts towards you.New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, and are used by permission. All rights reserved
If you have read this far you may be interested in knowing I am “Going Sober in October” to raise money for McMillan… there is a link here.
God bless you.