The first day of being a Rector began with my Licensing and Installation service. It was a wonderful occasion,the church was packed with friends old and new from far and near, with prayer and hymns, readings, fab preaching by the Bishop, and with all the symbol and ritual of installation. I poured water into the font for Baptism, I was presented with a seriously large key at the church door, I placed patten and chalice on the Altar, and I rang the bell (closely supervised by the Tower Captain) to reach out beyond the walls of the church into the parish. And after it all, we ate pancakes and shared stories. My parish are looking after me so very well!
This morning I had church to myself to say morning prayer. The contrast was huge, but still I know that I am joining with people in prayer, even if I am on my own with God. Mind you, the church was no warmer – but to sit in “my” stall was very special indeed, and my sloppy grin remained intact. Later in between PCC preparation, and checking liturgy and doing wedding telephoning and filing, I went out into the village (with apologies to everyone who will tell me it’s a town) and joined the library – any excuse to get out and about! It was a relief to be back in uniform and back to work after the gap. I’ve ben getting very impatient in among the paintbrushes and boxes.
But it was tonight when I felt as though I had arrived. After safely installing me yesterday, the Church entered Lent today, that period of repentance – and so we had a service this evening where we had ashes smeared on our foreheads, and we shared bread and wine together. Standing behind the table, even using a relatively unfamiliar Eucharistic prayer was when I realised I have arrived. I am here, life is different, I am looking forward to the coming weeks, months and years.
In case anyone thinks I am burning crosses in the photo, it’s quite true, I am. The ash used on Ash Wednesday is made by burning Palm Crosses from the previous year.