The time has come for me to hang up my clergy collar.
It feels a very strange time of transition, and not without a degree of fear.
For thirty two years I have been a ‘Rev’ and have taken something of a public role within the community.
I have been known in the parishes I have ministered in and have sought to be an active part of the community.
As a vicar you have a public responsibility, but suddenly overnight I shall become simply a member of the community.
Some find this change very hard, and not just clergy.
I have heard of clergy who continue to wear their collar every day and maintain a similar routine to what they had known in their parishes.
Similarly you can see the retired caretakers who continue to wear a bunch of keys attached to their belts, or the office workers with a row of pens in the top pockets of their jackets.
Nothing wrong in that, but the danger is that the job so moulds the person so that they haven’t any points of reference outside of those jobs.
For me it was an interesting experience recently to visit a showcase for local groups and organisations.
I went round talking to people on the stalls to see what took my fancy and found that I could have interesting conversations which had nothing to do with me being a vicar.
I was simply there as me!
It reinforced to me something I already knew, that I do have a life beyond my job, although still an active Christian.
God makes each one of us as individuals with all kinds of talents, gifts and interests.
We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be moulded just into the jobs we do, but should instead be able to experience all the fullness and variety of life as God wants us to.
It is so easy to become trapped by habit and routine and lose what life is all about.
Let’s be the people we truly are, as God means us to be!
Bring it on!