This is a recording I made in response to a feeling that I needed to speak to the people of Marsden about my calling to be the Church of England Vicar here. So, sat outside the Riverhead pub, with the traffic noise and the sound of the weir behind me, I made this unscripted recording: a transcription of which follows
Hi. As you may know, I’m the Vicar of St Bartholomew’s Church here in Marsden, and also St James Church in Slaithwaite. It is a huge honour and a privilege to be called to minister here in the Church of England in Marsden. What a fantastic place, a beautiful place to live and to work.
I pray for you every day. I pray for God’s blessing upon you, for God’s love to surround you.
“The Vicar of St Bartholomew’s”: what do you think a Vicar is? It is an interesting question, what are your expectations of me as a Vicar? Did you know that I’m on an interim post? I’m only here for three years. The first 6 months of which have already gone past in a coronavirus blur.
My job here as interim Vicar is to re-imagine the way Church should be and to help the people of Marsden, and the people of Slaithwaite, to engage with their Christian spirituality in a fresh way. To think in new ways about the Universe, the world, about relationships, about life, and about death. About our whole purpose here on Earth, in this life. A friend of mine wrote in a sermon just recently (and I loved this), “the shortest distance between two points is not always the best distance between two points. Take ‘birth’ and ‘death’, it is much nicer to meander between those two points, than to take the shortest distance.”
I’m here because Jesus loves: you
God loves: you
And you might not know that, and that’s why I’m here. I’m here because we all have faith in something, and the question is, “Does the thing that you have faith in build you up, or drag you down?”
The Church, at St Bartholomew’s, has a small but beautifully faithful group of people who worship there, but the Church is in decline in the number of people who go there regularly to worship God. And the building is a massively expensive building for a small number of people to meet in. It makes no financial sense for between 10 and 30 people to meet each week in a building that costs a couple of thousand pounds a month to maintain, and that doesn’t even include paying for a Vicar. But this is not the ‘Good News’, the good news is not, “come to Church we need your money”: that is not good news.
The good news is that there is a God and you are loved.
And that God is made visible in the person of Jesus Christ, which is a very peculiar thing to say, but worth finding out more about.
I haven’t always been a person of faith. I didn’t come to faith until I was in my thirties. I am a Chemist, a scientist. I have an IT background: I’m a rational thinking person. To me it has become a rational thing to see something bigger in this world than just the clockwork of science.
Science is rather beautifully a curious thing: a curiosity, an ‘asking questions’. Faith is also a beautiful curiosity of ‘asking questions’. My job here, if I can do one thing, is to invite you to ask questions. Questions about life and death, about faith and hope, about the God that you believe in, or the God that you don’t believe in. I’m not here to maintain the status quo: because the status quo is not maintainable. I’m here to offer hope to the community of faithful people, and to invite you to explore your faith in new ways.
If I haven’t put you off, and I hope I haven’t; I’m always happy to speak to you.
God bless you. May God’s love rest upon you. May you know God’s love in your life, this day and always. Amen