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Notes From the Vicar - February 2020

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I'm writing this on Sunday 19th January, a week or so before my induction and licensing as Vicar of the Benefice of Garsington, Cuddesdon and Horspath, but I am conscious that most of you will be reading this after my licensing and the beginning of my ministry among you.

I’m writing this at my desk, in my study – a study which still contains boxes which need unpacking, but the shelves are now lined with books and, each day, I can see a little more of the carpet and the light at the end of the tunnel.  Wi-fi is now working, but we’re still having problems with the land-line.  The number, once it’s working, should be 01865 361146.

We moved into The Rectory on Tuesday 7th January.  Perhaps you’re wondering why you’ve not seen me in church yet, or why I’ve politely declined invitations for meetings before my induction on 27th January.

Well, firstly, until my induction and licensing, I’m not your Vicar and I have no authority or permission from the Bishop to minister, or serve, in this place.  That all changes on 27th January, when I will be licensed to the Benefice and able to lead worship, and perform other duties, within the Benefice.

The period between my arrival in the Benefice and my induction is a time for unpacking boxes, for organising my study, for putting up curtains, and all the usual jobs that accompany moving house.  It’s also a time to draw breath, before the beginning of a new ministry – a pause before the fun begins or, if you prefer, a calm before the storm.  Many clergy are advised to take a holiday in the short gap between leaving one parish, or post, and joining another.

For me – as well as organising the Rectory and my study – these three weeks or so have been a time to gradually reacquaint myself with an area which means so much to me.  A chance to rediscover footpaths and places to walk our dogs.  A chance to visit some of the local pubs.  A trip to Dorchester Abbey, to visit the Narnia Experience there.  And, most importantly, an opportunity for prayer and reflection and worship.

On my first Sunday back in Oxfordshire, I chose to worship at St Andrew’s in Sandford-on-Thames, where a friend was leading worship.  This morning, I chose St Mary Magdalen in Oxford.  I’ve been reflecting on how blessed we are, in Oxfordshire, having such a wonderful variety or worship available, and so many different churches to choose from.  Whether you enjoy a traditional Anglo-Catholic mass – with incense, bells, and a choir; or Evangelical worship, perhaps with a worship band; charismatic worship; Liberal Catholic and inclusive; middle of the road; all-age; family-friendly; Messy Church; BCP Holy Communion – whatever worship style you prefer – or whatever helps you to encounter God and get a glimpse of heaven – you’re sure to find it in Oxford or one of the nearby towns.  We’re blessed with a wide variety of churches and services.  And I love the fact that there is such variety on offer.

However, I believe that we also need our village churches. We need a church in Garsington, and in Cuddesdon and Horspath.  And we need a viable worshipping community in each of these churches, or villages.  So, I’m keen to ensure that our churches are places where we can encounter God, and get a glimpse of heaven.  I’m keen that our churches should grow in numbers, in spiritual commitment to God, and in loving service to our local communities.  I’m keen that our churches should be Christ-like communities – contemplative, compassionate and courageous.  I’m keen that our churches should be inclusive churches, where all are welcome, and all are encouraged to achieve their potential as beloved children of God.

I would like to invite you to help me and our PCCs and church members to develop a vision which will enable our churches to grow, and to serve our communities – our villages – to serve you and your descendants – for generations to come.

If you used to come to church, but haven’t been for some years, I hope you’ll consider coming back and joining us, as we consider how we can continue to serve this village in the future.  If you’ve never been to church – except for the odd baptism, wedding or funeral – I hope you’ll consider coming along and joining us.  If you worship elsewhere, I hope you’ll consider whether you can join us occasionally, and share your thoughts on how we can better meet the needs of our community.

Please do come along to my first service at All Saints’ on Sunday 9th February and introduce yourself.  I look forward to meeting you. Whether you attend church or not, whether you believe in Jesus or not, I’m looking forward to meeting you in church, or in the village hall, or pub - or out and about around the village - and hearing your views about where God is at work in Cuddesdon; about what All Saints’ is doing well; and about what we could do even better. If you see me in the pub, please feel free to buy me a gin and tonic and to share your ideas on how I, and All Saints’ Church, can best serve the village of Cuddesdon.

The Clergy Handbook for the Oxford Diocese encourages all clergy to take a regular rest day, or day off, each week; and to let parishioners know which day this will be.  My usual ‘day off’ will be Monday; and I’ve enrolled on a Beginner’s Scentwork Course with my husband, Martin, and our two dogs, Marlowe and Coogee.  In the next newsletter, I’ll let you know how we’re getting on – and also reflect more on the importance of a Sabbath rest, or time off, as a regular spiritual discipline, and as an important contributor to well-being, wholeness and health.

Thank you and God bless,

Revd Karen