Becoming Church Warden

Once I stopped laughing at the offer to take up the role of Church Warden, I mean was the Rector bonkers? Did he really think I could be THAT grown up? Apparently he did.

So off I went to think and pray about it.

I googled “What does a Church Warden actually DO?” and promptly scared the living day light out of myself.

So  I rang the previous vicar and asked for his advice. Suffice to say he wasn’t very enthusiastic and shed quite a lot of doubt on my ability, my commitment and if I was a strong enough Christian……. WELL that just annoyed me and after a further few days of prayer and silent ranting…. I said yes.

For the official bit I had to go to Rye to the lovely St Mary’s. Taken by the previous warden, to make sure I went, I was welcomed by the Archdeacon in, some very grand surroundings and if I am honest was rather emotional at the thought of following in the footsteps of generations of Christians all doing our bit to promote the word of God.

On the way back my predecessor filled me in on some of the “extras” and the village politics that everyone had failed to mention……..what had I done???

But as the weeks turned into months turned into years I discovered that I knew more than I thought I did. And while I may not do everything in the traditional ways our church had always done things, I could persuade even the most traditional of our flock to bend a little and even embrace new ideas.

I was encouraged to lead a very active role taking  responsibility for prayers, reading and leading small services. Slowly my doubts were replaced by confidence and I was no longer afraid to jump into conversation about being a Christian but tried always to lead by example stepping out into the village with confidence that the church plays a vital role in village life and really needs to be part of the village not a stand alone historical building.

When our beloved Rector announced to the full church he was ill and would be taking time to have some treatment, I saw with my own eyes (as did everyone) pure unadulterated faith. It was bursting out of him, exploding into the congregation, that he had faith in God to bring him and his family safely through this dark time. In his own quiet modest way, I suddenly saw such a confidence and declaration of faith I was humbled. Never did he show any fear, although I am sure there must have been times where he had doubts and worries.

If ever there was a sign of God’s love in action it was the way, we as a church community pulled together and rallied round to keep the status quo, to even grow a little in his absence and to make sure he had a vibrant church to come home to.

And he did and we rejoiced and slowly we returned to normal and that was where I hit my personal brick wall.

I think I had just done too much for too long in addition to being a Mum and working full time in a demanding but enjoyable job. The cracks were starting to show and I started to take a few things very personally.

It was time to step away and spend a bit more time being me and to find time for me to worship without the pressure of sorting, leading, being.

Simples! Or so I thought……..

 

How did I get here??!!?

 

I have always gone to church.

Even living abroad as a child we were never really “HOME” until we have been to church with our Grandmother. Walking into the familiar building smelling the polish and the flowers. Aged Sunday school teachers telling us how much we had grown, genuinely pleased to see us. It was an anchor, a safe haven, it was home.

During my childhood I didn’t really think much about God, we sang, about him, heard stories of his sons adventures, knew he was to be feared and obeyed but mostly I knew I was loved. That God took me as I am. That he was there to protect me from evil.

Then I discovered David Livingstone.  The story fascinated me. Imagine travelling as far as Africa to spread God’s word. How brave but there was the nagging doubt that maybe the people he visited didn’t want to be told of God? What if he had gone all that way and nobody listened to him?

Bringing this up with my dear, long suffering Aunt she pointed out  that maybe he had gone to talk about the Son of God, Jesus Christ who had walked and lived among us.

The penny dropped and I realised that was what I was missing. I was concentrating on God this great big all consuming power but not really including Jesus in the equation. Doh!!! I hear you groan but it was the 70’s and I was only little.

Living abroad strengthened my faith because I was surrounded in people who believed, had conviction and prayed. BOY did they pray! Shouting from minarets, everything in the Arab way of life included prayer and God, from the greetings to the simple saying Inshalla “God Willing” . Churches where we lived were packed to the rafters often with several services a day and ranged from Catholic, C of E, Missionary Baptists and services could be in a number of different tongues – Tamil, Hindi, Urdu and even English!

But my faith was private one. I knew God held me in his hands and that he was in my heart but it was my God, my faith and unless I was asked a direct question I didn’t try to expand on my faith. If I am honest while I read my bible I struggled with quoting or remembering what came from where and if I spoke out would anyone challenge me? Ask me something I didn’t know the answer to?

So I decided my way of showing my faith  was in serving. Always the first to make the tea, sweep the floor, tidy up after Sunday school that was how I would show my faith after all we are called to love and serve one and other! That was my excuse I stuck to it.

Life moved on and my faith never went away but I never really did anything to help  it grow, I just took it for granted that it was there and I maybe didn’t read my bible enough or pray as much as I should have but that didn’t matter. Or did it?

Then my world collapsed and suddenly I was a single mum going through a divorce hundreds of miles away from my family. My whole approach to church changed. I would bring all my hurt and anger on a Sunday morning and throw it silently at the cross and plead for some understanding, some help and the strength to get through the following week. On occasion I would sob through a sermon, or hymn but I would always leave with the weight gone from my shoulders and strength and joy in my heart to take on the challenges to come that week.

Slowly week on week I let my church family in and took so much strength and support knowing I had people to turn to.

Then the Rector came up with an idea!!!!!!!!!!

Did I think I might like to be a Church Warden?