I always get asked the question why I have not left my day job and become a full time vicar. I have always said that God had never called me to leave work but had called me to be a vicar. I have always loved being a scientist in the NHS and if God wanted me to stop working the NHS then he would need to stop me liking it so much. Well this has finally happened.
I remember going on a careers tour of the local hospital labs and just loved it and knew that’s what I wanted to do. So as 16 year old I went to work in the NHS. That was in 1976. For 34 years I enjoyed it, loved my job but in the last year or so I stopped enjoying a job I had always loved. It was almost like God was loosening the ties so I could be free to be a full time Vicar. Through mine and others prayers, I soon came to realise that was what God wanted. So from January 2012 I will be a full time vicar, staying in this Parish but also working in Balby Parish.
Some of you will know that Balby church has a different style of worship than Wadworth or Loversall. Some would describe it as “Bells and Smells” a phrase that refers to the extensive use of incense and the ringing of bells during the service. That does not mean that I will be introducing this style of worship at Wadworth or Loversall. Neither will I be seeking to change Balby church and remove the “bells and Smells” I see beauty in diversity, and hope that through very different services at the three churches we will have something for everyone.
Of course some of you will also know that Mary the mother of Jesus also has a higher prominence in the way the Christian faith is expressed at Balby church. I also know this will worry some of you.
I recently went with Balby church to Walsingham, where there is a shrine to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Although Mary is held in very high esteem, a more Christ centred place you would not wish for! Mary always points to Jesus, every story in the Bible that mentions Mary, focuses our thoughts on Jesus. It is important to realise we do not pray to Mary but ask Mary to pray on our behalf. The church does not consist purely of those alive now but also of those who have died and are in heaven. Just as we ask a friend to pray for us, we to can ask Mary to pray for us.
Likewise it is important to realise that statues of Marys although much-loved are simply a focus for devotion - a visual aid - and not something to be worshipped in itself.
I enjoyed the 4 days immensely made new friends but also had an intensely spiritual time. Balby church go to Walsingham every year, perhaps you would like to join us in July 2012 and see for yourself.