This time last year I wrote about my journey towards applying to become a reader and about what 2019 might hold. Most of you will know by now that I was accepted for reader training and I started the two-year course in July. So far I have found it scary, hard work, but very rewarding. I have already learned about ‘Being Anglican’, ‘Enhancing Worship’, ‘Evangelism’ and ‘Being an Inclusive Church’. But more than that, I have learned so much about myself and my relationship with God. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to you all for your support and belief in me.
As I write this, I have just returned from a study weekend where we were exploring inclusivity and what that means in practice. I have come away with a lot to process and consider. But three things stood out for me. First was the fellowship. There are eight trainee readers who started with me and three more on the year ahead. We met for the first time in July, and I have seen my own year group at our weekly study evenings. But we greeted each other like old friends, and really enjoyed each other’s company. When I thought about why this had happened so quickly, I realised it was because we all had so much in common. We had our faith, we were all on the same journey, and because we were all struggling with different things on the course, we were able to share and support each other.
The second aspect was having time just to ‘be’. It was a busy weekend, with study from 9.30am until 6pm and then an evening session after dinner. There was a lot to cover, but we had Saturday afternoon free. This was so important, as it gave us time to chat, to take quiet time or to go for a walk. All of this allowed space to process what we had been learning and think about where it was taking us.
The final aspect was making time for God in our busy lives. We started each day with Morning Prayer together, closed on Saturday with Evening Prayer and shared a Eucharist together on Sunday. While this was a learning weekend, not a retreat, we were looking at the Bible to reinforce our learning, discussing aspects of church life, and sharing in worship. Along with quiet time, for me, this was very powerful. I really felt God’s presence with me, guiding me. Although I have embarked on this Readers’ course and the areas I feel called to work in are becoming clearer to me, I felt very much that God was saying that He still has more lined up for me.
As I have returned home, I have though a lot about these three things and how important they are in our day-to-day lives. We are all so busy. But it is important to spend time with people who share the same beliefs and values as us. They help us to understand that we are not alone on our journey, that we can support each other, and we can laugh and cry together.
It is also good to take time for ourselves. One of the things we are supposed to do on this course is to make sure that we have a day a week for us, ‘Sabbath time’. I struggle with this, but reflecting on this weekend, I know that this has to be one of my New Year’s resolutions. Particularly with the busy year ahead; I am starting
back on the course with ‘Old Testament’ and ‘Preaching’, as well as tasks to do in and around the parish. I need to make time for me, to recharge my batteries, and to just ‘be’.
And, finally, spending time with God. He is always with us on our journey whether we feel it or not. It’s sometimes difficult to step out not knowing exactly where the journey is taking us. I still am not a lot clearer than I was last year. But the more time I spend in prayer alone, sharing worship with others or just walking with God, the more I know that this is the right path.
I am sure I will be seeing you all very soon, to share my journey with you, but until then I wish you all a very blessed New Year.