I have returned, very briefly, from my sabbatical sojourn to announce some important news to the parish. As many of you will now know, Fr Andrew our Curate has been offered and has accepted the position of Vicar of the beautiful parish of St Mary Sunbury-on-Thames, just up the river. Fr Andrew’s last Sunday among us will be Sunday 3 April, he will be inducted as Vicar of St Mary’s on Tuesday May 3rd.
There will be many opportunities to say thank you to Andrew, Alice and the family for their presence among us in the next few months and upon my return. In the mean time, I wish all of you a very Happy and Blessed Christmas.
I shall now get back to my sabbatical.
Fr Simon announced on Sunday the news that I will be leaving St Nicks after Easter to become the Vicar of the ancient parish church of St Mary’s, Sunbury-on-Thames.
This is the message from me that was read out In Sunbury Church on Sunday morning:
“Dear Friends in Christ, I am extremely excited to have been appointed by the Bishop of Kensington to serve as your next Vicar. I am 50 and serving as the curate at St Nicholas, Chiswick. I am married to Alice (who is a director of a luxury leather goods company called Pickett) and we have three children; Jamie 19 at University studying journalism and Archie and Eliza, six year old twins. It is a great privilege to be joining you and I am much looking forward to seeing what God has in store for us over the coming years. Please hold me and Alice and the children in your prayers as we make our plans for joining you as I will be holding all of you in my prayers.
With every blessing and prayers for a Happy and Holy Christmastide.
Fr Andrew Downes”
So there we are. My feelings are of excitement as to what lies ahead but also great sadness at the fact that Alice and myself and the children will be leaving this great parish for new pastures.
All curacies come to an end eventually and the naive brave and inexperienced deacons that you receive from the Bishop of London go on to exercise ministry elsewhere. You have all been beyond kind and generous to me and Alice and the family, you have laughed at my bad jokes, you have forgiven my errors and you have encouraged me. And you have supported some of the ideas and initiatives that I have introduced. Many of us have laughed together and I have cried with a few of you, I have been moved beyond words by the support and affection that I – and Alice and the family – have received from you. So I want to just say thank you. A big thank you. From all of us. For all that you have shared and offered with and to us.
But, but you have got me – us – for a while yet and the plans are that’s we will journey together through Lent and Easter and my final Sunday will be 3rd April and my licensing in Sunbury will be on Tuesday 3rd May, we shall, I suspect, have a party or two before I depart.
But actually all this is very secondary ! Curates come and go. Vicars come and go. People have gathered on the site of St Nick’s for over 1200 years to worship God, to bury the dead, baptise the young and marry the bethrothed. To laugh and cry together. That’s what we do. That’s what Christians do. We live and work together and journey through life together as the Body of Christ.
Above all what’s really important, and what really in the end is all that matters, Is that in a few days’ time we shall mark a day when a small baby came to us in a stable in Bethlehem and changed the world. And changed our lives for ever. Thanks be to God.
With every blessing,