Being present without doing very much.

Before I was ordained I remember being told by an experienced member of the clergy that much of the job was simply about hanging around. Having met a few priests who seemed to confuse ministry with socialising and others who seemed tempramentally incapable of solitude, I was slighly suspicious that his advice had sprung from a need for self- justification. But over the last 21 years I too, have come to value the ministry of hanging around, but would seek to dignify it as a ministry of presence.

On Wednesday evening I made my debut as chaplain to the mayor of Wandsworth, Jane Cooper. All I have to do is turn up 10 minutes or so before every council meeting so that I can say a few prayers before business commences. But I stayed on for another 2 and a half hours, during which time I learnt a lot about the politics and the concerns of the council. I hope I did not irritate anyone with my annoying habit of guffawing at regular intervals, and also that my presence gave some encouragement to the local counsellors, who know me, and to those who feel comforted by a declaration of God’s care for what they do, and even those who simply want to be valued for what they contribute.

The following evening I was invited to attend St Michael’s school’s end of year musical- the Rocky Monster Show. Having never been invited to lead an assembly at the school this was actually my first official appearance at the school in the 5 years that I have lived here, so it was a special day for me. As I left some of the children involved, who come to St Barnabas, did rush up to me to say hello. Once again I felt that it was significant that I was there, because it told them that they mattered and are loved. It was also  a great evening of entertainment.

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