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From the Rectory January 2022

SIMON WARD 12-2018First of all, may I wish you all a very happy and peaceful New Year and thank you all for your prayers and kind wishes at Christmastide, all of which were much appreciated. I do hope you all enjoyed a good Christmas
This last week I have been gradually returning after a three month sabbatical. It started in early September and when I finally had to return in December I honestly have wondered how I was going to get my brain working again! At this point I must say thank you to all those who have worked hard while I have been away: clergy colleagues, ministry team, church wardens, and countless other volunteers who have enabled the work of God’s church, in its many and varied forms, to be sustained. One of the early aspects of learning for me is to recognise that the Parish of Great Yarmouth does not grind to a halt when I am not there. I am grateful to everyone who allowed me to have that time
A sabbatical is a gift of time. Back in early September it felt like an endless stretch of time spanning way into the future. Come November I could sense time ticking by as I counted weeks then days until my return. The sense of time passing was heightened on the final sabbatical weekend as I celebrated a significant birthday in the company of family and friends: a time of great blessings and joy
During sabbatical I have enjoyed many hours in the company of family and friends who I have not seen for too many years. I realise that time with family and friends is nourishing and invigorating: Time walking with others as the conversation meanders and drifts or time spent putting the world right over a pot of tea or bottle of wine. One returns from such visits feeling buoyed up but also having a deep sense of gratitude for people whose friendship endures over decades. It was also a blessing to have time to see Georgette run the London Marathon and to take our eldest son away to university
Sabbatical took me to many places around the country and I spent many hours travelling. Most of my travel was done on public transport which I enjoy. I had a retreat in glorious Devon during sunny September; fun filled days in London; hiking in the Cairngorms and rambling along Kent footpaths. I find a train journey is a gift of time when you can read, listen to music, catch a podcast, stare out of the window, or have a doze
The luxury of time allowed me space to think and reflect too. The all-important time for God in a measure which is deeper and richer when you step away from the normal routines of life. While walking I would find places to sit and be still or often would stop at a quiet church to pray in quietness. Time can be beautiful
At the start of the year we have a gift of time. It is up to us how we choose to use our time and this is a decision which has huge implications for us. Do we choose to do the right things and invest time in things which enrich our lives, give us breath and build up others? There may be times and situations in 2022 which test us both as a community and as individuals. But every day is a gift where we can choose what to do and how we shape our lives
It’s good to be back. I look forward to all that God will do in our lives and churches in the year to come
With thanks and prayers for you all
Fr Simon
Rev Canon Simon Ward
Team Rector, Great Yarmouth Parish


this article also appeared in Parish Life


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