We are coming to the end of Lent and beginning of Passiontide and Holy Week, a time of celebration for the Christian church. Through participation in the whole sequence of Church services, we share in Christ’s own unique journey from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (2nd April) – to the empty tomb on Easter morning (9th April), signifying His celebrated Resurrection.
Lent was a time for solemnity and self-reflection. It provided the reflective window to calm our restlessness and anxiety in the midst of the storm and tragedies. The recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria, the train crash in Greece and other unreported tragedies were but a few examples of the uncertainty of times. Sometimes we feel helpless not knowing how to respond. However, individual and corporate prayers drive us towards peace within the limits of our capacity or helplessness as we emerge out of solemnity and self-reflection. We are assured that God is in the heart of families, communities, emergency services, construction workers and governments as they tackle the issues before them. Similarly, we feel re-tooled and ready to face immediate and future life challenges beyond Easter with confidence and assurance because of our renewed faith.
The Bible narrative of Isaiah, the 43rd chapter cites: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” I turn to these words daily for sustaining a positive faith outlook and I hope you do so too.
Leaving the Claydons
This letter sadly marks the end of magazine contributions over four years and 45 editions, which a local resident reminded has been running for over 28 years. It has been an immense privilege to serve as Chief Editor, supported by the gifted Rachel Seago and talented group of individuals, volunteers and contributors. I leave a flourishing magazine that is distributed to 1,800 homes, recognised for local government communications and online published via Parish website attracting 900 monthly views. It is now on a firmer financial footing for long-term survival with thanks to local Parish Councils.
I am honoured to have ministered in our three churches, church community as well as collaborating with our Patron, Sir Edmund Verney and his family, and clergy colleagues: Team Rector Revd David Hiscock, Revd Angela Mann and Rural Dean Revd David Meakin. The flourishing of new Parish ministries since my arrival clearly evidences our sustainable position in the community heart. I offer thanks for the generous support of Deputy Council Leader, Buckinghamshire Council, Angela Macpherson and her team, local Parish Councils: Steeple Claydon – Frank Mahon, Middle Claydon – Sir Edmund Verney, East Claydon – Peter Wright and Calvert Green – Phil Davis. Also included within this group are our Local Member of Parliament for Buckingham – Greg Smith, East Claydon Church of England School, Steeple Claydon School and The Methodist Church.
The community and personal relationships developed during weddings, baptisms and funeral events have been a joy and privilege. To have journeyed with families in their celebrations, but also in their sadness and grief, have been deeply humbling. I along with Nicki, will forever hold these special memories to heart.
S C McAuley once said, “God made us as we are in order to use us as He planned.” The challenge of ministry is to recognise when we are called to hold things light. That includes being present for a specific purpose and time in a given space until we’re called elsewhere into a new ministry. It is with mixed feelings that this has become the weight of calling as Nicki and I contemplate the move away from The Claydons into a new season with St Sebastian’s. The 19th chapter of Proverbs is a reminder of this wisdom when it cites: “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail”. Our desire is to remain aligned to God’s purpose as we navigate this ministry journey. I therefore hope you will be able to join me for one of three Easter Sunday services (see centre pages) followed by Farewell refreshments in the Parish Room, St Michael’s, from 12.30pm.
For contact after my departure, please note the following for Revd David Hiscock:
Parish of the Claydons Office – 01296 706694 and voicemail
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Website Contact Box – www.theclaydonsparish.org.uk
Churchwardens (see contact details in the centre pages)
Address – Parish of the Claydons, C/o St Michael’s Church, Queen Catherine Road, Steeple Claydon MK18 2QF
Finally, I wish the Parish every success as clergy colleagues and Parish begin their prayerful discernment process and discussions for my successor.
Stay blessed with love
Reverend Rickey Simpson-Gray
Parish of the Claydons