For those who couldn’t make it to Evensong this evening, and for those who couldn’t understand what I was saying through all the tears, here’s part of what I said in my goodbye speech. There was so much love and warmth and blessing in that church tonight. A very special night indeed.

50 things I’ve learned from Old Saint Paul’s

  1. Flipflops are not appropriate footwear for those at the altar at High Mass.
  2. Black is the only colour acceptable for clerical shirts.
  3. Preaching tabs are a spawn of Satan.
  4. Having a curate means more work for everyone.
  5. But it also means Nigel gets to produce 18 page booklets of instructions for High Mass, which he secretly enjoys.
  6. It is ok to drink gin at 7am, but only on Easter and only if one is on a train with the servers.
  7. Weekday morning masses are still valid if the priest can’t feel her fingers.
  8. The mass’s validity may, however, be in doubt if the priest is wearing nail varnish of an unorthodox colour.
  9. Collaborative ministry means the rector joins the curate in cleaning up human excrement in the church.
  10. No one expects clergy to be able to sing well.
  11. But the choir and servers still make faces when the celebrant hits a really wrong note.
  12. A choir’s true talent is known when they are still able to find their note correctly in the Evensong responses, regardless of which note the priest has ended on.
  13. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a choir to get a new deacon ready to sing the Exsultet.
  14. Knitting is a ministry authorised by God.
  15. But not always recognised by the church.
  16. Yarn-bombing is a form of evangelism. You’ll see what I mean in Advent.
  17. It’s important to remember to breathe.
  18. Always.
  19. And laugh.
  20. There’s only one way to do liturgy correctly: the OSP way.
  21. There’s only one way to do things at OSP: the rector’s way.
  22. Until Nigel comes along.
  23. Even if a consecrated host has dropped on the floor at Midnight Mass and been trod on by countless feet, there will always be a server devout enough to consume it.
  24. The most innocuous items on the vestry agenda will always spark the most debate and take the longest to resolve.
  25. The best kind of training incumbent knows there’s nothing a g&t won’t fix.
  26. But still tries to offer day-old coffee to his clergy team.
  27. No one’s perfect.
  28. There will always be somebody ready to tell you exactly what they thought of your sermon.
  29. That’s not always a comfortable thing.
  30. Behind every good sermon is the wisdom of a clergy spouse.
  31. Because that person will give you an honest answer to the question asked at 3am on Sunday morning, ‘Will I make an ass of myself preaching this?’
  32. The worst words to hear from the clergy spouse in response are, ‘Well, it’s not one of your best’.
  33. Being married to a priest means having to watch Made in Chelsea and Nashville, as well as eating too many ready meals and fish suppers during the busiest weeks.
  34. But actually, that has nothing to do with my priesthood; I’m just lazy.
  35. It’s by the grace of God we do not know the good we do.
  36. And the most sacred moments are often the least expected.
  37. Ministry consists of hanging a lot of posters, moving a lot of chairs and lighting a lot of candles.
  38. It is possible to say morning prayer half asleep.
  39. Being a good priest means always listening for the still small voice of God, even when it seems at times inaudible, or even absent.
  40. Fr Ian is a good priest.
  41. But all the very best priests have greyhounds.
  42. When in doubt, turn to poetry.
  43. But there are times when only silence will do.
  44. Retail therapy really is good for the soul.
  45. And when one shops in one’s clerical collar, it’s an opportunity for many significant pastoral encounters.
  46. So it also counts as work.
  47. Sometimes ministry is about allowing others to minister to you.
  48. And about learning to ask for — and accept — forgiveness.
  49. There will always be someone ready to take you out for a pint after a trip to the tattoo studio.
  50. The one who calls is always faithful.

One thought on “more lessons learned: farewell speech

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