Vicar School Update // Summer 2015

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2 years down, one to go.

So, it’s about time I did an update and here it is, this time via the blog, because, well just because it’s easier. And if you didn’t know I wrote a blog, well you do now…

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Post Op…

So I have successfully completed 2 years of my ministerial training, if there was ever a miracle, this is it. It means that God (and the Church of England, which are of course almost interchangeable) hasn’t yet changed his mind about me being a Vicar, which is somewhat encouraging (but also completely terrifying and requires wine, medicinal of course). Completing this year was certainly a marathon having suffered a back injury around Easter which a few week later became a prolapsed disk. To be honest if there was ever a ‘good’ time for this to happen it was then, I missed a minimal amount of college and should be fit enough to start back again in September; and in terms of work it is perhaps the quietest time of year. Right before Christmas or Easter would have been pretty disastrous… It basically has meant weeks lying on the floor on painkillers that turn you into someone with the mind of a jellyfish, and about as much coordination too (especially when coupled with the aforementioned wine). This was followed by surgery which was as you may imagine, not much fun, but has so far been successful and some 8 weeks post-op I am driving again and a lot more mobile.

So I definitely limped over the finish line this year and was completing my last essay under the influence of severe back pain and a cocktail of drugs. I sent it off with a note to my tutor suggesting it would either be brilliantly insightful as a result, or a load of pants. Amazingly I did rather well with it, so it does rather make me wonder about about the benefits of drug taking whilst writing essays ;)

All that said it has been an utterly amazing experience, I can honestly say I wouldn’t change it, as I have just felt an amazing closeness of God that I will always cherish. If you’d like to know more, I preached a few weeks ago on all that, and you can watch it here:

 

'So... you want to be a Priest do you...?'

‘So… you want to be a Priest do you…?’

I’ve been off work for 12 weeks now (eek, what will my inbox be like!?) but have spent the time off wisely by watching Suits and Youtube… ahem… I mean by being very studious… Actually I have loved having time to be creative again and lots of that has been blogged on here too, as well as finally finishing my ‘short guide to the discernment process‘ which will mean nothing to you if you’re not in it or ordained already. It’s basically the process by which the church selects people for training. It is, well, lets just say you need more than wine to get through it… Phil says it’s a ridiculous name and makes him think of old men in a room smoking pipes and stroking their beards saying ‘hmm’ a lot, which may not actually be all that far from the truth…

I started writing about it right when I started college but of course time and priorities meant it never quite made it to the top of the ‘to do’ list. But with hours on my hands I finally completed it and it’s now out there for all to see… well for the 7 people currently going through it all… ok maybe 8…

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Getting creative again…

So anyway, this is supposed to be a college update…. as I write we shall shortly begin discussions about my ‘title post’, aka The Curacy (cue dramatic music, dun dun derrrrr…). This will almost certainly mean a house move, and possibly schools for the kids too. It is with some trepidation we approach this but also with total trust in God. Phil and I have always felt that He would show us the way forward and guide us into His plans for us, so we continue to trust Him for our future.

But before then I still have a year to go at college, with a church placement – delayed due to my injury – which entails spending 8 weeks or so in another church, gaining experience and then writing a number of reflections on it. Then more modules, New Testament this term, plenty more essays and heaps of things from our ‘check list’ including visiting yes, more churches, and various tasks. There are frankly not enough hours in the day! This year will definitely be a challenge especially when I now have to add into it, regular physio and gym visits and walking twice a day too.

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Beautiful Canterbury Cathedral at dawn

Looking back this year has been great, despite the ending. We had a fantastic week at Canterbury again at Easter, with some beautiful worship in the cathedral crypt. Some great teaching, and a fab day on preaching with a visiting speaker Rev Dr Sam Wells, which won’t mean anything to most of you but those in the church might recognise his name. He was incredibly inspiring and it was great to chat to him at lunch too, over a rather soggy omelette (’tis the CofE you know, no expense spared…). For me, possibly a highlight of the year, was along with a few friends, successfully lobbying (and yes it felt like lobbying) for a more charismatic service during our study weekends. Despite not being able to lead it because of my back, it was a wonderful service, led fantastically at the last min by my friend Jeremy and I hope enabled people to see what good charismatic evangelical worship can be like. (Charismatic means different things to different people but in this case meant a more informal service, modern songs, less boring stuff – sorry guys, but it’s my blog so I’ll say what I think ;) – and more importantly some space for the Holy Spirit to move. In this case we had time for people to pray out as they felt led and some prayer ministry – time where people could be prayed for by a team of people with some privacy. Apparently it was the first time in years the college had included this kind of worship which felt like an achievement! And we had some great feedback after too, at a college like mine people come from all different parts of the church and it was never going to be everyones cup of tea, so it was lovely that people felt able to worship and meet with God, for many in a style they are not used to. For me, as the weekend where my back first started to go, it was an emotional roller coaster, but at the same time felt significant in more than one way.

As we took communion we included a wonderful song by the band Leeland, which is below. I just love this song, it expresses so much of what Jesus did for us…


I listen to this and think, yes I am seated where I don’t belong. Many people have said to me things like ‘you don’t deserve this’ of my back injury, but the truth is we all deserve a heap more than this. Sorry to get all deep, I know this newsletter is a bit more melancholy than others have been (and no bean jokes other, there’s a first) but I guess being incapacitated or poorly makes you reflect more and I’ve done my fair share of that recently. I can’t begin to describe the blessings I have felt in all the pain and I can only say that is down to God. Others go through far worse than this and suffer terribly and yet I can look back and say it has been a blessing. Why? I think it’s the goodness of God. And no I can’t say why I get to have a good time in it all and others don’t, but I just know I wouldn’t have got through this without Him…

 

Ok I’ve probably gone on enough, promise to be more jokey next time! and there might be some curacy news too :) In the meantime here’s some prayer points…

: For healing – well derr…. this is a slow old process but any prayer for helping in my back would be very much appreciated!

: As we approach curacy discussions, please pray for God to guide us to the right place.

: and in that, for peace for us all and particularly the kids

: A level results on Thursday, need I say more! Uni beckons…

: For me as I get back to work, for the time that I need to fit everything in!

 

 Thank You!

As always with love and blessings

 

Jules xx

 

 

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