A copy of the New Testament (left) was given to me on that day (which I still use on parochial visits).
As he gave it to me, the Bishop of Southwark said: ' Receive this Book, as a sign of the authority given you this day to speak God's word to his people. Build them up in his truth and serve them in his name.'
That's a good a description as you'll ever get of the job of a pastor-teacher. There's lots of other stuff you have to do of course, but that's your core task as an under-shepherd of the flock of God, ministering the truth, building them up, always mindful that they are his, bought with his blood, and infinitely precious to him (even, if at times, quite irritating).
The years have sped by and we have been privileged to serve in four wonderful churches: St Luke's, West Norwood; St Peter's, St Helier (Morden); Holy Trinity, Redhill and St James & St Anne's, Bermondsey. Each has a special place in our hearts.
|St Luke's, West Norwood|
I began ministry in inner city south London and have now returned there. It's one of the many reason why coming to Bermondsey has been a bit like coming home.
A verse that has long meant a lot to me during all this time - and the one I quoted on my first day as Vicar of St Helier - is Romans 10 verse 1 where the Apostle Paul says of his people: 'Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.'
And that, of course, is the greatest thrill of all: when that happens.