As always with John it was a relaxed and I hope informative interview over the hour of his show – I’ve clipped up the salient parts which amount to about 15 minutes of conversation. I hope you enjoy it and as ever – any questions, leave a comment or get in touch.
It’s been a busy old week. As ever at this time of year the now annual debate about the style of ordination photographs got raging on Twitter. My contribution to that was pretty limited – a reply to a friend (see below) which was then picked up by the Guardian. They asked for a quick interview and what I tried to convey was that the annual ‘jumping’ or set up photographs (see dabbers from Leicester) simply fail to communicate the depth of joy and seriousness of what has just happened. This is no reflection on those in the photographs (let’s not forget my own ‘jump for joy’ caption competition moment in Church Times a couple of years ago) but rather a criticism of the people putting the photographs together – forcing in some cases – people to engage in a set-up and rather forced ‘joyful’ photo in an attempt to grab the front page of the Church Times.
The issue is not one of taste, but of the discomfort I feel at enforced fun – and the thing is – that comes across in the photographs themselves. The second point is that they’re just so creatively dull. They’re as expected as the shot of the beautiful blonde school girl opening her A-Level results and make me groan through sheer lack of creativity. What I did find interesting is that the Church Times last year published a wonderful picture of a father throwing his son(?) into the air – a moment of sheer joy beautifully captured – it was different and really did communicate the deep sense of joy. On their website they decided to lead with an image of the Hereford Deacon Ordinations – a formal photo – but taken by a professional photographer that had stunning colour and depth and leap from the page.
Yes, call my grumpy. Fair enough. But think on this… when was the last time a Priest was in the Guardian (front page) talking about Ordination and the wonder, splendour and honour of that call? When was the last time a Priest was on BBC Radio 4 PM talking about Ordinations and the joy of being called by God? I mean no offence to anyone, but come on people, we’re more creative than jumping in front of the cathedral.
BBC Radio 4 PM Interview
What I found interesting about the photographs from last year was that whilst the Church Times had a wonderful joyful face on their cover (great!) they used a beautiful golden image – very sensibly set – from Hereford as the lead on their website. (then ‘others’)
John Hellings from BBC Hereford & Worcester asked to speak to me last week at All Saints in Hereford city centre. It was a good opportunity to talk about the TV show and what people thought of it – how All Saints is a thriving, living and loud church and why I call myself Father.
It’s worth pointing out that this sermon has two possible endings. One, clean and simple – the other requiring the congregation to stand and to reaffirm their baptismal vows. At both St. Michael’s and at Holy Trinity the vicar at each felt that this would be too much and so I didn’t do it (local context is everything) but in future I’m going to try this.
In the TV series, A Vicar’s Life you will have seen The Reverend Ruth Hulse – Team Vicar in the West Hereford Team Ministry and you’ll also have seen fleeting glances of The Reverend Prebendary Robert North.
Rob is one of those very special people that make the world a better place. He is in fact, my TI – my Training Incumbent. The person whose job it is to attempt to shape and support me as I step through this stage of my training.
Anyone who has ever had to work with me, or manage me knows what a big ask that is. I run at 150mph as my average speed. I run at almost everything with boundless enthusiasm and want to change the world through the action of God’s love in the world NOW.
Rob has sat and listened, gently guided and stood in front of me, supported me, (and also said no) with a grace and kindness that I often don’t deserve. He is a model of what Christ’s love looks like in the world.
You don’t get to see Rob in the TV series very much, which means you have missed the gift of this wonderful man – and so – for a moment when I have a degree of public attention I would like to turn the light towards Rob… a man I have come to deeply love and admire, a man who will make me a better Deacon, a better Priest and a better person.
Last Sunday I was asked to do ‘GNS’ interviews for BBC Local Radio Stations. What that means in practice is that you sit in a small studio at your local station with a microphone and a small black box and every five minutes or so a BBC Producer from a different Local Radio Station calls you and you do an interview down the line.
I spent two hours talking to stations all over country about what a huge privilege it has been to open the doors to the BBC Documentary team behind A Vicar’s Life. To show them, and in turn other people, what the daily life of a Church of England ‘vicar’ looks like.
I did quite a few interviews but this one from BBC Radio Cumbria is a good representation.
It’s a bad title. I know it is – I’m a Deacon on my way to becoming a Priest and if I am signed off from my training I may become a Vicar… or a Rector… or something else. Right now – I’m an Assistant Curate.
But this post isn’t about that – it’s about answering the question that has come up most often during the filming of A Vicar’s Life for BBC Two.
Why did you want to do this?
It’s a question I answered for a Church of England video talking about my faith and calling which you can watch below. I hope it may help you start to perhaps look at what it is that God has in store for you.
I write here about a range of things; a loose collection of posts and reviews about things that I am passionate about. For the most part that means you’ll see lots of posts about my faith and about Jesus’ ministry through me here at St. Anselm’s, Hayes. You can also find any sermons or broadcasts I may have delivered (although I’m not entirely consistent in posting them).
I was asked back (amazingly!) to BBC Hereford & Worcester to deliver a Thought For The Week. It’s a huge privilege to be able to speak to so many people about what it is that God may have in store for them – prompting people to sit in prayer and seek the path God has put before them. Listen to the Thought here, or read the transcript below and if you have questions about vocation then do get in touch.
What are we called for?
This coming Friday you will see me featured in the new BBC Two documentary “A Vicar’s Life”. Amongst other stories you’ll see how I left college in Oxford and came to Hereford to become an Assistant Curate – a Deacon, a Servant – in the Church of England.
That path was the culmination of four years of prayer and exploration of what it was that God had in store for me. There’s no one path to finding what God calls us to do. There’s no neat way that enables us to see the path before us other than to ask God to show us.
We often talk about ‘vocation’ in the Church. We generally use it as code to mean a process by which somebody becomes an ordained minister. But vocation is really the action of God’s love through us each and every day – and finding what that action is, is at the heart of figuring out the path God gives us.
So how do we even start to discover that path? We start with prayer. We end with prayer, everything that God wants to share with us he does through the sacrament – through communion – and through prayer. As we spend time with God we discover the spark of His love inside us and as we fan those flames we start to discover what it is, or who we are called to be.
It could be ordained ministry, it could be teaching, nursing, becoming a doctor or a carer – all those roles that we already understand as a kind of vocation – but there are other things that we’re less good at exploring and being open to. It could be that you’re called to be a good neighbour, or to be the person who smiles when others frown, or to be the person who holds the hand of somebody who is frightened.
Whatever it is that God has in store for you – try to find it. Be still, know that God loves you – that His spark is inside you – and fan those flames with prayer and with the sacrament.