Farewell – Christopher is retiring in October 2021
Christopher and Gerry write: we will be leaving the Welland-Fosse Benefice at the end of October 2021 after 5 years of entertaining and enjoyable ministry among you all. We have been so fortunate to live in such an idyllic spot and mix with very welcoming folk.
I was appointed by the bishop for what was essentially a caretaker role – a part-time post – to allow me to recover some of the joys of pastoral ministry after what was a long and mainly administrative time in Lancashire. How different things are down here! No wailing sirens, little in the way of torrential rains, the absence of racial division or grinding poverty. It has been a valuable time to take stock of life and the Church of England in its present manifestation. The Covid pandemic has complicated our plans. Without that we may have retired a year or so earlier but now the time seems ripe. We can slip away after the fun of harvest and before most of us start to think about the excitement of Christmas.
Some of you will know that one of my favourite poets is R.S.Thomas. I am drawn to him for his often-bleak view of God but also his unquenchable faith. This poem, ‘The Bright Field’ is well known and has been lying on my prayer-desk in Barrowden Church for months now. It is beginning to shout at me:
I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
On to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
Many of you have executed that ‘turning aside’ to discover at leisure something richer in your lives. Now it is our turn. We have plans to devote more time to the family, to travel a little and to enjoy a house and garden which we can really call our own.
Life at Barrowden Rectory has been a delight. Taming the garden, immersing ourselves in the routine of the countryside and the village network has been tonic not toil. Every parsonage house is porous and we have been privileged to enjoy the company of many callers within its walls.
So now we must turn aside lest we forget the vision of that ‘brightness which seemed as transitory as your youth once’ but is now ready to be reclaimed.
Thank you for your company. It won’t be forgotten. We are only moving into Stamford and will look forward to continuing our friendship with many of you for some time to come.
Sunday 25 July 2021