The quote opens a well known passage at the start of chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes. The words are both down to earth about the activities of every day life (“a time to weep and a time to laugh” “a time to keep and a time to throw away”), and deep philosophical writing which encourages us to relate all we do in life to God. And, I think, it asks us to choose with God what to do, both collectively and as individuals, day by day and year by year.
Time is also so elastic. In the time between my appointment and the start of my ministry with you on 15th June, Parliament has decided to hold and complete a general election. Our choices matter, as the simple choice of where to place a cross on a ballot paper shows. And it is the same for other choices in life. At its simplest, it comes down to whether we choose to be people of light, or people of darkness. People of light make choices which build the kingdom of God here on earth. People of darkness damage the kingdom of God.
As I write it is my time to relax, to prepare, and to wonder about the future. As you read this the activity of packing and unpacking will be in full swing. And you will be wondering, ‘what is he like’?
Well, you’ll find out what I am like as we get to know each other. The idea of a “honeymoon” shows that first impressions are always made up of both clear insight and misleading evidence, and it takes a while to sort out which is which. So here is some background to get us started.
I was ordained at 33 after training on the Oxford Ministry Course. For much of the time since then I’ve been a Minister in Secular Employment while teaching and researching in Geology and Geophysics at Reading University. My interests were in applied aspects of geology, relevant to the oil and gas industry, water companies, sand and gravel quarrying, and in later years supporting archaeology. After a varied and fulfilling University life, I left in 2010 opening the way to full-time parish ministry first in the village of Waltham St Lawrence in Berkshire, and then in Bottesford with Ashby parish in south Scunthorpe.
My wife, Moira, has been ordained almost as long as I have, serving in parishes in Newbury, Thatcham, Reading and Scunthorpe. She took us to Scunthorpe where they showed us how to to be friendly in a northern way. And she brought us south again to become Archdeacon of Reigate.
When we left Scunthorpe last September, we headed south to an Archdeacon’s house in Blindley Heath, and our son Ed headed north to start a degree in Biochemistry at Edinburgh University.
As well as teaching us southern reserve again, Blindley Heath has been the perfect place to get to know a new dog. Tess came from the Dogs Trust in Shoreham as an eight month old puppy. She is a lurcher (part greyhound, part border collie) – very friendly and energetic, and enthusiastic at digging up the garden.
I hope to see you on the 15th June and look forward to getting to know each other after that.
With God’s blessing,