Monday 31st December
(note to self… write some thought provoking stuff for next magazine)

I assume by now you have read Mavis Jones’ Home Page, as I am reliably informed readers are significantly more likely to read that rather than the “vicar slot” In fact I would imagine you have read the list of advertisers and checked out the printers by now. I could take this a step further and fill up the rest of the page with random print and probably only the proof reader would notice.

For those determined to stick with this let’s give a great welcome to Tabitha, our new editor. This is her first edition and we look forward to seeing her gradually putting her stamp on this splendid publication. She has a great act to follow, but there will be more about Sara and her tenure elsewhere.

As a church warden it is my duty to keep you updated on new vicar progress. At the time of writing there is little to say other than an advert will probably have been placed during January with interviews in early February. This is not an easy job we are advertising; asking someone to run three parishes that have only just been combined and haven’t worked very much together as yet. So it is going to take someone with energy, drive and vision to take the three churches forward.

Just as a magazine must evolve to serve its readership, so must the church evolve. It is human nature to resist change but let us not fall into the trap of hoping someone will come along promising to maintain the status quo with the same menu. The status quo is a slow but steady decline. Yes our Christmas services were great, you came in your hundreds, you made the church vibrant and the birth of Christ was celebrated in a right and joyful way. Christmas, Easter, high days and holidays always swell the congregation , probably because Hambledon is such a great place for friends and relatives to visit. The majority of services, of course, are not like that. We wouldn’t expect people to turn out in their hundreds most of the time , but there is no getting away from the gradual decline in church attendance and there must be a reason for that. In the same way that people will only flock to a pub that offers the food, the drink and the welcome that sits well with the target audience, so a church will only attract more people if it offers what they are looking for.

You could tell me that nothing a church has to offer has any place in your life, but I am struck by the number of you who would not normally see yourself in church ask me “when are we going to get a new vicar?” So why does it matter to you I wonder. Is there a bit of you lurking deep in your soul that would like to be somewhere that had the right food , drink and welcome for you?

Tuesday 1st January
Go for a walk.

I am walking in a churchyard car park not many miles from here. Two spaces in the car park are marked “CHURCH WARDEN”. Wow, I think, Rachel and I could use a bit of status and respect like that, an allocated, labelled parking space.

I walk a little further and a notice pinned to a tree says “THOU SHALT NOT PARK HERE… by order of the Church Wardens”. Not only do these wardens have respect, they also have power. They must feel so important. Are they more important than the people who do not have allocated spaces? Are you more important than other people in this village, or do you feel totally unimportant and expect to pass through live virtually unnoticed?

Church Wardens are created equal, as are each and every one of us. We are not, however, born with equal shares of money, fame, love, etc. There are gifts and talents inherent in all of us regardless of birth and it is very much up to us how we use them. No matter how well educated you are, how well connected you are, how much is in your bank account, how much authority has been given you in your secular life, you are no better than anyone else as they are no better than you.

So do we use our gifts and blessing to help others or do we use them to trample over them? Since the creation of mankind we have been trying to get into a position of power over others. Something wrong there because we can only see God if we are in a place of peace and reconciliation with all people.

Wednesday 2nd January
(Note to self… raise issue of allocated parking spaces for wardens at next PCC)

Wishing you happy and Peaceful 2019

Paul Foster