A farewell message from Roger Whatley

Posted by Admin on Monday, 26th November 2012, 21:28

Twelve Months at St John the Baptist Church

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Rev’d Roger Whatley, Associate Priest, St John the Baptist, Northwood

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People will tell me that as you get older time passes more quickly. It certainly does not seem twelve months since Claire and I started in Gurnard and Northwood parishes. This has been a busy year both at church and with our family. There have been many changes with our eldest daughter moving to the mainland, having completed her university course and my middle daughter expecting a baby late December or early January. We have had to change the house around to accommodate the new arrival and two puppies have arrived, been trained (sort of), and have become part of the family. As my time in the parishes comes to an end on Advent Sunday, Claire and I are preparing to finish the book I started to write last year and pray about our future ministry in the church. I also hope to develop my work with the fire brigade who themselves have experienced many changes over the last twelve months.
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Christmas is of course a traditional festival and most of us would be unhappy with any changes to the way we celebrate it. We love to hear carols, look at coloured lights, receive cards from friends we might not hear from any other time of year or eat a traditional Christmas dinner [ or steak and salad in our house] . I am about to put out my Christmas Present List which, as  usual, will have an original Monet painting on it or a Routemaster bus but I know that it is quite unlikely to receive either.
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As we celebrate the birth of Jesus I believe some changes are acceptable. It may be the way we greet a neighbour that we rarely speak to or by showing kindness to someone who may be on their own over the holiday. It may be, heaven forbid, a time to think about the words in the carols and ask ourselves just what it was about that birth in a mucky old outhouse that began the Christian faith two thousand years ago. Some folk will say that the magic has gone out of Christmas but in my opinion magic has nothing to do with it. Christmas is not about tradition but a feeling that starts in one’s heart and changes lives.
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Finally can I thank all the people who have supported Claire and me over the last twelve months. It has been a privilege to have been able to be part of the parishes and to share highs and lows of parish life. As you prepare to welcome Amanda as the new ‘Vicar’ please pray for her and her family as they face up to the many changes that lie before them, not least adapting to living on our Island. I am sure she will be made as welcome as we were on our arrival. May God bless you all.
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Roger

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