It is a privileged feeling, to be at the start of something. I was present at the birth of all three of my children (although I nearly missed Peter as I was parking the car at the hospital and he wasn't for hanging about), and to see them growing up into the strong individuals that they are becoming is wonderful. There are times it seems a real challenge, and they don’t want to know, and they seem to be a million miles away from us. But it remains a wonderful privilege to be their parents, to care for them, to give them a safe place to grow and become themselves.
The metaphor of raising children is not a particularly good one for church congregations. Members of a church are not little helpless bundles of humanity, wriggling about with no ability to make decisions or look after themselves. Members of a church also cannot be sent to their rooms in disgrace if they throw their weight about. No, the metaphor of child-rearing is not very good for the people of a church.
But the day before yesterday my ministry in Cowal and Bute was born, as Bishop Mark of Moray, Ross and Caithness licensed me to the charges of Holy Trinity Dunoon, with St Martin’s Tighnabruaich and St Paul’s Rothesay. The metaphor works for this new charge. My ministry here is like a new child! It is new, unformed, not really able to do much yet, but is full of potential. The privilege that I feel today is to be present at the birth of something that will grow, develop, change and eventually become something (hopefully) full, rich and, always, for the glory of God!
So, as I sit at my desk, looking out at the marvellous trees of Holy Trinity Dunoon’s site (which block the view of the sea!), and I glance over the still-cluttered, just-moved-in desk (Bible, brand-new 1982 blue book with propers and RCL, packaged headphones for Skype, congregation lists, phone message pad, paten I found in a cupboard and a set of Jesus pencil toppers), I am excited at the future. The congregations and I will form this ministry (helped by the boss, of course), but I am quite overwhelmed by the privilege of what is beginning here!