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The United Benefice of Withington, Sevenhampton with Charlton Abbots, Hawling, Whittington, Dowdeswell and Andoversford, Shipton and Cold Salperton

This month's letter from the clergy

Dear Friends

August means a lot of things. Holidays, of course. Warm weather, we hope. But for this benefice August this year means welcoming Colin back from his sabbatical.

Traditionally, the church worked with the assumption that clergy’s ministry was like a piece of clockwork. It was as if each Vicar’s mechanism was wound up during their initial training at theological college, then they were put down into their parishes in the hope that the clockwork would not wind down completely before they retired. Sadly, that hope wasn’t always fulfilled, and on occasion clergy ran out of ideas and energy while they still had years of service ahead of them.

Sabbaticals help us get away from looking at clergy and their ministry like that. A sabbatical is a great investment in our clergy, giving them a chance to stand back for a while from all the details of parish life. Sabbaticals are a kind of pit-stop, offering clergy an opportunity to think, to read, to pray and generally to get a fresh perspective on the work God has called them to do.

There is a principle here which applies to all of us. Perhaps we attend church on a Sunday. And that is a good thing to do. Sunday worship serves to get us spiritually fuelled for the week ahead. But why not also include in our lives regular pit-stops between our Sunday fill-ups?

Some time each day set aside for prayer is a vital way for any of us to connect with God. If we can include some time to read a portion of the Bible as well, our conversation with God will then be two-way, as we listen to God’s Word as well as speaking to him in prayer. There is no better way to keep ourselves spiritually energised, and able to face whatever each week brings our way.

Will Strange