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Hallo again to all. Juliet Hemingray Stole

Yesterday we witnessed a busy day for our priest. It started with a graveside service in the morning. The weather has not been what one might call 'friendly' or 'fine' for the past few days. We have been subjected to torrential rains and nearly constant blustery winds. Yesterday morning's weather was an improvement: the skies were still grey, the wind was still strong and gusty, but at least it wasn't raining! We were thankful it stayed dry during the family's service at the cemetery.

After the committal, there was time for the priest to return to the church and prepare for a wedding at one o'clock. It was supposed to have been an outdoor ceremony, but the wind and high probability of rain meant a change of venue to the church hall. Why not move the ceremony to the sanctuary? Because it was being prepared for the next wedding scheduled for three o'clock!

Wedding one to wedding two—we hoped our priest got a cup of tea between happy ceremonies!

We arrived at the church a little before 4 o'clock to help prepare the sanctuary for the memorial service scheduled for 5 o'clock. We slipped past bridal attendants, family and friends who were standing on the front steps and walkway to join a small crew of parishioners in the sanctuary setting up the needed elements for the upcoming memorial service.

The family of the deceased was bringing a slide show to be shown during the service, so a group of us assembled a large portable screen in the chancel where the choir stalls usually stand while others set up a projector and laptop for the family to use. All was finished in a timely manner, and the service proceeded without a hitch. Seventy-five minutes later, after the family and other attendees had left the building, we helped restore the sanctuary to readiness for Sunday's services.

One Saturday, one priest, four gatherings of families and friends. Two beginnings of shared life together, two memorials of lives lived. And we know, from past experience and from watching yesterday, that each family knew they had the priest's full attention and care—as each sacrament required.

We are blessed with a priest who is a source of spiritual leadership for the parish's regular flock and the community at large. We admire the inner resiliency required to lead yesterday's services and then to be fully present for the two Sunday Eucharists this morning. One of our fellow congregants remarked that yesterday's marathon of sacraments was a rare opportunity for us, as laity, to see a compressed example of the cycle of sacraments and their associated range of emotions a priest experiences in the course of parish ministry.

We give thanks for those called to ordained ministry. Your leadership, both within your congregations and beyond the parish bounds, is valued—although as laity, we are sometimes negligent thanking you in person.

And to that end, dear reader, we hope you might find the time this week to write your priests a note thanking them for their ministry. In these days of electronic communication, a hand-written note has become a treasured rarity and a welcome surprise for the recipient. If you would prefer to write us a note about the clerical leadership in your parish, please send it along! We will publish your letters next week. Juliet Hemingray Stoles

[W]e praise God for your commitment to serve Christ
in the order of priests.
Serve patiently and cheerfully,
remembering that the work you are called to do is God's work;
it is in God's hand, and it is done in God's name to God's glory.
Follow Christ whose servant you are.
Share the burden of those whose cross is heavy.
You are marked as a person who proclaims
that among the truly blessed are the poor, the troubled,
the powerless, the persecuted.
You must be prepared to be what you proclaim.
Serve Christ simply and willingly,
and let your joy in Christ overcome all discouragement.
Have no fear; be humble and full of hope.‡

See you next week.

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4 October 2015

‡ A New Zealand Prayer Book, pp. 906-907 (

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