Be born in us today

Sermon by Rev David Walsh at Midnight Eucharist, 24th December 2016

Isaiah 52.7-10; John 1.1-14.

Well we’re not going to forget 2016 in a hurry.

As we look forward to 2017 and beyond we know that the world is changing.  But we don’t know, can’t be sure, what the changes will look like.  Nobody knows.

Our society and our world are clearly deeply divided.

Can we hold together despite our differences?  Can we live together despite our differences?  These are key questions for our society, for our nation, even for our community here in Kettering.

One disturbing feature looking back at 2016 has been the growing lack of respect, of genuine conversation, between people who disagree.

Stable societies find ways for people who disagree nevertheless to live alongside each other.    Ways of agreeing to disagree.  Once we lose this, we have a serious problem.

As we look forward into 2017 and beyond, in a world that is clearly changing, the fear is of change so unpredictable that few understand what is really happening and even fewer work out how best to respond.

‘History doesn’t repeat itself.  But it does rhyme.’ as Mark Twain reputedly said.

As we try to understand our own times, our hope has to be that the apparent parallels between our own decade and the 1930s turn out to be false and that events fail to take the ugly turn they did back then.

In the meantime, it’s not surprising if people are wary and anxious about the future.

Our first reading this evening from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah is set in a culture, in a city, not anticipating the threat of calamity, but on the other side of it, after it’s already happened.

The disaster has actually struck.  And in the circumstances the message is a little jarring:

‘Break forth together into singing
You ruins of Jerusalem.’

It’s hard for us to get a handle on just how inappropriate these words must have sounded.  Because Jerusalem was indeed in ruins, destroyed in 587 BC by the Babylonians, modern-day Iraq.

What might open our eyes is the fate of another great ancient city, just 400 miles north of Jerusalem.  A city even more ancient than Jerusalem itself.

One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, a city whose wealth once made it the second city of the Ottoman Empire.  A city mentioned in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.   But now lying in ruins.

I’m talking about Aleppo.

‘Break forth together into singing
You ruins of Jerusalem.’

Perhaps one way to imagine the original impact of these words is to recall the images on our TV screens in recent weeks.   And imagine anyone saying

‘Break forth together into singing
You ruins of Aleppo.’

This is the desperate backdrop to some of the most inspiring literature ever written, the prophecies of Isaiah, a few lines of which we heard in our first reading.  These writings are one of the glories of Hebrew literature and speak to us today, 2,500 years later with such freshness, with such creative and vivid use of imagery and metaphor that the words at times simply leap off the page.  And what is their message?  One of hope.  One of liberation and transformation.  Of new life.

The lesson appears to be that if it’s visions of hope we want, it’s best not to go looking in comfortable, complacent times.  Our most profound and transforming visions appear to emerge in times of uncertainty, of anxiety and even distress.

The visionary writings written when Jerusalem lay ruined were inspired by another group of prophecies written 200 years earlier, prophecies which appear towards the beginning of the Book of Isaiah.

Those earlier prophecies also foresaw a new start, one very specifically related to a birth:

‘The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.

For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’

Hopes for the future are here crystallised in the hope surrounding a birth.  That’s not so unusual.  But these hopes eventually come to fruition in the birth of Christ.

This need not be the end of the story.   The hope that something new might be born and be a sign of God’s presence is one we can continue to nurture and cherish.

As 2016 draws to a close, many of us are understandably anxious about an uncertain future.  But uncertain times, times of transition and change, can be moments of opportunity as well as threat.

Perhaps, in a time of crisis, a new poetic vision will transform our expectations about the world

Perhaps something new is waiting to be born in our world. If so, how will we recognise it?  And how will we respond?

Do we believe that something new could be born here in Kettering?  And that we could be part of it?

Do we believe something new could be born in this church and this parish?

Do we believe something new could be born in our hearts?

That which is born is new and unpredictable.  But it is also familiar.  It draws on what is already there, isn’t something imposed from outside, something alien.  And yet it is new.

If something new is to be born in Kettering, the raw material, the seeds,  are almost certainly already here.

If something new is to be born in this church, in this parish, for it to be genuine and authentic, it needs to grow out of what is already here.

If something new is to be born in our lives, the change, the miracle, needs to happen within us.

The prayer at the heart of our Christmas celebrations was summed up in the last carol we sang:

O holy child of Bethlehem,
descend to us we pray;
cast out our sin, and enter in,
be born in us today.

‘Be born in us today’.

Or, to borrow the language of our gospel reading, we pray that in some new way the Word might take flesh and live among us.   That we might see glory and that we might know God’s grace and truth amongst us.

Christmas Lights

Here is the talk by Rev David Walsh at the switching on of the Christmas Lights in Kettering Town Centre on 24th November 2016:

If we’d been standing here in the Market Place exactly a hundred years ago, quite a few of the buildings would be familiar to us.

But if we were to travel further back in time – two hundred years, three hundred years, four or five hundred years, eventually there’d be just one building we’d still recognise. That’s the Town Church just behind us.

The Town Church is a gift from Kettering’s past to us – to Kettering’s present and to its future. It’s a gift to each one of us here.

Every day people wander into the church, which is open to anyone. People come in who aren’t members, who aren’t even sure if they have any faith. And yet still they come.

Sometimes they don’t know themselves what brings them in. Some want a place for quiet reflection. Some come to mourn loved ones who’ve died. Sometimes they come to cry & even to howl out loud. But they also come to celebrate, to say ‘thank you’. There’s no charge for any of this. It’s a gift.

The church belongs to the town. Many people in Kettering don’t realise they’re entitled to be married here, to have christenings here, even if they’re not regular members.

We want the church to be even more open to the people of Kettering.

In four weeks time – just 3 days before Christmas Day – we host the Town Carol Service, a service not just for our regular crowd but for the whole Town of Kettering. A service for you.

And this evening the church is open. Do come in and look around. We’re offering mulled wine to the first hundred visitors.

And we want to hear from you how we could make this church even more your church, so that it is really is Kettering’s Town Church. There are plenty of other churches in Kettering and we’re keen to work closely with them. But this historic building has a special place in the heart of the town, a special place when Kettering comes together on special occasions like this. We want to do that better. And we want you to tell us what we need to do.

So next year we’re going to ask you. Next year we want to contact as many people as possible in the Town to hear what they want from the church. What we could be doing differently.

We also want to work with people of other faiths and of no faith at all for a better Kettering.

The gift of this church is only possible because of a far more significant gift.

When we meet week by week, we come because we’ve discovered that our lives and everything in them are a gift. We come to give thanks, in joyful gratitude.

And as Christmas approaches we celebrate what is for Christians the biggest gift of all. That God has given us not only our lives and all that we have, but given us also Himself, in the person of Jesus. We celebrate this man and we try to follow him. He shows us what it really means to be truly human. And we believe that because of what he’s done, we become able to be more truly human ourselves, to live life in all its fullness.

I hope that when Christmas finally arrives, it bring gifts you’re able to treasure. And a new year full of unexpected blessings.

God bless you all.

mnt1-24-11-16-ab-1-90
Kettering Christmas: Kettering: Lights switch on in the Market Place. Chrstmas lights switch on by Beauty and the Beast panto cast Cheryl Fergison and Lucie Downer. Choir of Ss Peter and Paul Church Thursday November 24, 2016

(Picture by Alison Bagley)

God’s honest judgement – then he offers us mercy

Preached by Revd David Walsh on 25th September 2016

Amos 6.1a, 4 – 7, Luke 16.19-end

A vicar friend of mine has a son, who, much to his embarrassment, is constantly getting into trouble at the school attached to my friend’s church. The teachers at the school drip-feed my friend with stories of the latest misdemeanour his son has committed or the completely unacceptable things he has said.

 When this boy was nine, one teacher couldn’t wait to update his father on the latest episode. In an attempt to influence the boy’s behaviour, the nine-year-old had been given a punishment, intended to deter him from even considering such an action again. The nine-year-old just looked at the teacher and said: ‘That’s the stick. Where’s the carrot?’

 When I first saw the readings selected years ago by the Church of England for this Sunday, the Sunday we are inviting people back to church, I realised they weren’t the readings I would have selected for such an occasion. The Bible is full of stories of welcome, embrace and acceptance. Instead today we get ominous warnings. An Old Testament prophet rails against those who bask in luxury whilst around them a society is being ruined. Far from being immune from what is happening to their country, says the prophet, they will be the first to suffer when the nation finally collapses. In our second reading from Luke’s Gospel, agony and torment are pictured as the consequence of decisions taken by a rich man whilst he was alive.

 Exile, agony, torment. I can well imagine you thinking ‘That’s the stick. Where’s the carrot?’

 These stories are of course set in societies very different from ours, a long time ago. For most of my life I’ve found it hard to identify with them. And yet in recent years I’ve found it easier, as our societies have once again become more unequal, as a whole new class has emerged, a new breed of plutocrats, the extraordinarily rich.

 And of course some of these fabulously wealthy people are doing fabulous things with their money. Just this week Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, announced a donation of $3 billion to try to eradicate many diseases by the end of the century. Zuckerberg joins Bill Gates, who has been fighting against malaria for some years now.

 It’s easy to be sceptical about rich people making gestures like this. But for me their actions throw a spotlight even more clearly on the behaviour of the seriously wealthy who don’t even bother pretending they are generous and responsible with their wealth.

 And so these difficult stories from the Bible begin to make more sense to me.  Some of the imagery is troubling. But underlying these stories is an insistence that – despite appearances – justice matters, is built into the very fabric of the universe.

 There is a psalm many of you won’t have heard, but which, as a priest, I say at Morning Prayer several times a year. I used to struggle identifying with the sentiments in the psalm.

And then I found myself living in Kensington at a time of unrivalled affluence, of tax avoidance and then financial meltdown. And suddenly these words from Psalm 73 came alive in a new way:

 ‘I was envious of the proud

I saw the wicked in such prosperity;

For they suffer no pains

and their bodies are sleek and sound

They come to no misfortune like other folk

nor are they plagued as others are

And so the people turn to them

and find in them no fault.

Then thought I to understand this

but it was too hard for me

until I entered the sanctuary of God

and understood the end of the wicked

 How you set them in slippery places

you cast them down to destruction.’

 If this is simply about finding pleasure in the misfortunes of others who had it coming to them, I’m not interested. But if these stories are trying to say that – despite appearances – there is a moral order built into the fabric of the universe and that in the end good will have its day, then I’m intrigued and interested. I would like all that to be true. That’s what faith is. Wanting it to be true. Deciding to behave as if it were true.

 It would be easy and comfortable in the religious life to steer away from the demand for justice. But that can lead to a facile spirituality, self-absorbed, caring little for so much that is wrong in our world. It simply doesn’t take account of the whole of our experience, fails to take on board life’s cruelties.

 It doesn’t reflect the way most of us want to bring up our children. Yes, we want them to be happy, want them to be healthy, want them to succeed in education, in work. But most of us want also for them to nurture their moral compass.

 For many people this is what religion is all about, precisely what religion is all about. And yet this is no more than a starting point. For if life without a moral compass is vacuous, life with nothing but a moral compass is harsh and rigid. Those of us who are Christians follow a man who desired not only justice but also mercy. Justice and mercy.

 Justice and mercy are both necessary aspects of the spiritual life and so of any life well lived. Justice without mercy would be unbearable, a kind of North Korea of the soul, in which life is always a march, never a dance.

 If you want to see judgment without mercy, pick up a tabloid newspaper, where even getting the judgments right in the first place often fails to matter. If you want to see judgment without mercy, think of the judgments we sometimes make about ourselves: our low opinions of ourselves, our habitual expectation of criticism, often taken in at a young age and yet as we grow older surprisingly resilient as an inner voice.

 We are not short of judgment in this world. What God offers us is honest judgment so that we might know who we truly are: a mirror which doesn’t distort.

 And then he offers us mercy.

I have found my sheep that was lost (SsP&P)

Exodus 32:7-14, Luke 15:1-10

Sermon preached by Revd David Walsh on September 11th at Ss Peter & Paul

It’s very good to be here this morning and I know many of you are relieved that at last you have a new Rector in place.

It is an honour – and rather humbling – to become the 53rd Rector of this parish.  In just three years’ time it will be the 800th anniversary of the appointment of the first Rector here in Kettering, something I hope we will all want to celebrate.

I want to thank you once again for your warm and generous welcome.  And for the way so many of you have stepped up and played your part in the church during the vacancy.

I’m grateful also to the Patron of this parish, James Sanders Watson, with us here this morning.

I’m especially grateful the selection process didn’t resemble one almost two hundred years ago in 1827, when the successful candidate just happened to be the Patron’s brother.

Right at the start of my ministry here in Kettering comes a gift in the shape of this morning’s Gospel reading.  A reading from the heart of Luke’s Gospel which gets to the very heart of what the gospel is about.

The author Luke takes a special interest in things that are lost and in Luke’s Gospel Jesus is especially concerned with things that are lost and with people who have lost things.

We use the word ‘lost’ to cover a range of experiences.  Yesterday I was doing some hospital visiting and lost my hospital parking ticket.  It was annoying and preoccupied me for around twenty minutes.  But it wasn’t life-changing.

But sometimes we lose things which are closely wrapped up with our sense of who we are, with our identity.  And then we ourselves become truly lost.  In extreme cases, people lose their memories.  We talk about people losing their minds.  But many of us will have had knocks in life which led to us losing our way for a while.   We lose a job.  Or a partner, a lover, a friend.  We lose someone through bereavement.

Luke’s Gospel is interested in these experiences of lostness because Luke’s Jesus is interested in them.

This kind of being lost is never good in itself.  And yet out of this lostness new things become possible.  Our true moments of glory come not at times of success, of welfare and plenty, but of lostness, hardship & uncertainty.  These are the moments of transformation.

The experience of being lost, then found, is at the very heart of the Christian experience.

Exactly 250 years ago last month a man stood in this very pulpit who wrote our best-known words about being lost, lines in the most recorded song in history.

‘I once was lost
but now am found’

When John Newton came to Kettering on 5 August 1766, it was 18 years after the religious conversion which began to change his life.  It would be another six years before he wrote ‘Amazing Grace’.

Right at the heart of Luke’s Gospel are three stories about being lost and losing things, following one after the other: the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and a third parable we didn’t hear today, the parable of the lost son. The parable of the lost son may sound unfamiliar to you, and yet it is one of the greatest of all the parables, better known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  It is bizarre that it’s not known as the Parable of the Lost Son, because ‘being lost’ is so clearly the common thread running through all three stories; and because the parable ends with these words: ‘this brother of yours was lost and has been found.’

But lostness isn’t something we find just at the heart of Luke’s gospel.  It’s there also at the start and at the end.

In Luke Chapter 2 it’s Jesus himself – twelve years old – who is lost.  Mary and Joseph are travelling away from Jerusalem following the Feast of the Passover.  And then they realise Jesus is missing.  After three days they find him, back in the Jerusalem Temple, talking with the religious teachers.  Jesus says to his parents: ‘Why were you searching for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’

Luke is a great storyteller and it’s hard to believe he wrote this story without having at the back of his mind another story, one which he tells towards the end of his gospel.

Because this is not the last time in Luke’s gospel we meet two people walking away from Jerusalem following the Passover Festival, distraught because they have lost Jesus. It’s not the last time they encounter Jesus again after three days, engaged in a discussion of the scriptures. It’s not the last time the two people interrupt their journey and head back to Jerusalem.

Luke tells these stories in such a way that when we read the story of the Road to Emmaus, at some level we’re reminded of the earlier story, of Joseph and Mary, out of their minds with worry because they’ve lost Jesus.

Many of us will have had times in our lives when we have lost Jesus. When we can’t quite work out how once we felt close to him, and then somehow he no longer seemed to be part of our lives in the same way. And we try to retrace our steps and work out how that happened, and how we can change things so that Jesus is once more part of our lives, so that God’s presence, rather than his absence, is something we once again experience.

When Mary and Joseph finally find Jesus again, he appears to be completely at home.  He says to them: ’Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’

Which raises the question: ‘Who was really lost?’

It is we who are lost when we lose Jesus, when we lose sight of God, when we lose touch with the spiritual side of our character. I speak from experience, having spent fifteen years of my life away from Christian faith.  Like the people of Israel we heard about in our first reading, I spent many years wandering in a wilderness.  I often regret it and lament what I see as wasted years.  And yet, like the people of Israel, that time has shaped who I am and now shapes my ministry, especially with those on the edge of the church, those who find faith difficult.

Fortunately, as Luke’s Gospel makes clear, it is precisely at such moments of lostness that we can experience God in a new way.

When the lost son returns to his father, his father sees him when he is still far off and runs and puts his arms around him and kisses him. This is a picture of God, one of the best we have.

Once we find our way again, how is life different?  What is it that keeps us on track and stops us getting derailed?  A detailed map, perhaps, so we need never get lost again?

That’s not my experience.  There are Christians – there are indeed whole churches – who believe God provides such a detailed map.  In my experience, that’s rare.  Less a map, more a compass.  Indeed, less a compass, more a homing instinct. That feels more true to those moments in life when things do seem to go right, when we feel as if by God’s grace, we are living within God’s purposes.  It was such a homing instinct that took the boy Jesus to his true home – to his Father’s house.

I believe it was such a homing instinct which has brought me here to Kettering.

There is perhaps just one thing worse than being lost.  And that’s being lost and not realising it.

To be relying, for example, on a mental map which is no longer helpful because a place has changed.

Churches can get lost, not because they change but because the world around them changes.  It can happen to any church.  It could even happen here.

The way to stay true to ourselves when the world is changing is not simply to carry on as before.  The authentic way to be true to ourselves is to find creative ways of being the same person in very different circumstances.

And something similar is true for churches.  The world is changing.  Kettering is changing.  So the question for our churches is: how do we remain true to ourselves when around us we see change?  This parish’s distinguished history provides clues.  This year is the 100th anniversary of the creation of three new parishes in Kettering, the result of an imaginative and resourceful response by this church to the growing population.  It built three new churches, St Andrews, All Saints and St Mary’s and by 1916 these churches had become strong and resilient enough to have their own parishes.  This visionary act of generosity undoubtedly led to a growth in the Christian Church in Kettering.

Kettering is once again growing.  It’s unlikely that our response is going to be the same as 100 years ago.  And yet the need for vision, for imagination, for confidence in God and for generosity remains as strong as ever. 100 years ago this church knew that Christian life and ministry were an adventure.  Let’s join them and be true to our heritage.  And in doing so, find ourselves again in a new way.

I have found my sheep that was lost (SMAA)

Exodus 32:7-14, Luke 15:1-10

Sermon preached by Revd David Walsh on 11th September 2016 at St Michael & All Angels.

Right at the start of my ministry here in Kettering comes a gift in the shape of this morning’s Gospel reading.  A reading from the heart of Luke’s Gospel which gets to the very heart of what the gospel is about.

The author Luke takes a special interest in things that are lost and in Luke’s Gospel Jesus is especially concerned with things that are lost and with people who have lost things.

We use the word ‘lost’ to cover a range of experiences.  Yesterday I was doing some hospital visiting and lost my hospital parking ticket.  It was annoying and preoccupied me for around twenty minutes.  But it wasn’t life-changing.

But sometimes we lose things which are closely wrapped up with our sense of who we are, with our identity.  And then we ourselves become truly lost.  In extreme cases, people lose their memories.  We talk about people losing their minds.  But many of us will have had knocks in life which led to us losing our way for a while.   We lose a job.  Or a partner, a lover, a friend.  We lose someone through bereavement.  Today we remember those who still feel loss, 15 years after the events of 11 September 2001.

Luke’s Gospel is interested in these experiences of lostness because Luke’s Jesus is interested in them.

This kind of being lost is never good in itself.  And yet out of this lostness new things become possible.  Our true moments of glory come not at times of success, of welfare and plenty, but of lostness, hardship & uncertainty.  These are the moments of transformation.

The experience of being lost, then found, is at the very heart of the Christian experience.

Right at the heart of Luke’s Gospel are three stories about being lost and losing things, following one after the other: the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and a third parable we didn’t hear today, the parable of the lost son. The parable of the lost son may sound unfamiliar to you, and yet it is one of the greatest of all the parables, better known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  It is bizarre that it’s not known as the Parable of the Lost Son, because ‘being lost’ is so clearly the common thread running through all three stories; and because the parable ends with these words: ‘this brother of yours was lost and has been found.’

But lostness isn’t something we find just at the heart of Luke’s gospel.  It’s there also at the start and at the end.

In Luke Chapter 2 it’s Jesus himself – twelve years old – who is lost.  Mary and Joseph are travelling away from Jerusalem following the Feast of the Passover.  And then they realise Jesus is missing.  After three days they find him, back in the Jerusalem Temple, talking with the religious teachers.  Jesus says to his parents: ‘Why were you searching for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’

Luke is a great storyteller and it’s hard to believe he wrote this story without having at the back of his mind another story, one which he tells towards the end of his gospel.

Because this is not the last time in Luke’s gospel we meet two people walking away from Jerusalem following the Passover Festival, distraught because they have lost Jesus. It’s not the last time they encounter Jesus again after three days, engaged in a discussion of the scriptures. It’s not the last time the two people interrupt their journey and head back to Jerusalem.

Luke tells these stories in such a way that when we read the story of the Road to Emmaus, at some level we’re reminded of the earlier story, of Joseph and Mary, out of their minds with worry because they’ve lost Jesus.

Many of us will have had times in our lives when we have lost Jesus. When we can’t quite work out how once we felt close to him, and then somehow he no longer seemed to be part of our lives in the same way. And we try to retrace our steps and work out how that happened, and how we can change things so that Jesus is once more part of our lives, so that God’s presence, rather than his absence, is something we once again experience.

When Mary and Joseph finally find Jesus again, he appears to be completely at home.  He says to them: ’Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’

Which raises the question: ‘Who was really lost?’

It is we who are lost when we lose Jesus, when we lose sight of God, when we lose touch with the spiritual side of our character. I speak from experience, having spent fifteen years of my life away from Christian faith.  Like the people of Israel we heard about in our first reading, I spent many years wandering in a wilderness.  I often regret it and lament what I see as wasted years.  And yet, like the people of Israel, that time has shaped who I am and now shapes my ministry, especially with those on the edge of the church, those who find faith difficult.

Fortunately, as Luke’s Gospel makes clear, it is precisely at such moments of lostness that we can experience God in a new way.

When the lost son returns to his father, his father sees him when he is still far off and runs and puts his arms around him and kisses him. This is a picture of God, one of the best we have.

Once we find our way again, how is life different?  What is it that keeps us on track and stops us getting derailed?  A detailed map, perhaps, so we need never get lost again?

That’s not my experience.  There are Christians – there are indeed whole churches – who believe God provides such a detailed map.  In my experience, that’s rare.  Less a map, more a compass.  Indeed, less a compass, more a homing instinct. That feels more true to those moments in life when things do seem to go right, when we feel as if by God’s grace, we are living within God’s purposes.  It was such a homing instinct that took the boy Jesus to his true home – to his Father’s house.

I believe it was such a homing instinct which has brought me here to Kettering.

Does our gospel reading today provide any clues about the future of this church, of St Michael and All Angels, as we look ahead?

My impression is that St Michael’s is at a crucial moment in its history.  The energy and life here which I’ve already sensed needs to find a direction.  I see my main role here as simply enabling you to find your way forward.  I want to be a catalyst, an enabler, a facilitator, so that each of you can discover your own ministry and vocation: so that together you can flourish in faith.

Many of us are here today because we’ve known what it means to be lost.  Here is Kettering there is no shortage of people who feel lost, even if they don’t admit it.  They are struggling, hurt, confused.  What does the owner of the sheep do in our story?  For a while he leaves the warmth and security of the flock, looks out into the wider world, finds the lost sheep and brings it home.

As St Michael’s grows and flourishes – as I’m sure it will – never forget what it is that brings us together.  It is that we are people who know what it means to be lost.  That is what the people in neighbouring streets most need.  They need to see a community of people who, like them, know what it’s like to feel lost and yet who have been found.

And as you grow and flourish, have as your model the owner of the sheep in our story, who turns his face outwards to search for the lost one.  St Michael’s is here for a reason, for a purpose.  And part of that purpose is nothing less than the transformation of this corner of Kettering so that the lost can be found and so that the values of God’s kingdom – healing, reconciliation, justice – can become visible in our streets, signs of the presence of the kingdom of God.

Appointment of Rector

The following announcement was read at all service on Sunday 24th April 2016.

We are delighted to announce that, following interview and with the agreement of the patron and of the parish representatives, the Reverend David Walsh has accepted Bishop Donald’s invitation to become Rector of Kettering St Peter & St Paul with St Michael and all Angels. Subject to the normal Church of England legal and administrative procedures, David will be instituted by the Bishop of Brixworth on Sunday 4 September at 4.00 pm.

David is currently Associate Vicar of St Mary Abbots with Christ Church and St Philip, Kensington, with particular pastoral responsibility for St Philip’s, and Area Dean of Kensington, in the Diocese of London. David is married to the Revd Dr Carys Walsh, who serves on the teaching staff of St Mellitus Theological College. David says “Over the years, Carys and I have often heard about Kettering, as we both have family connections there. But Kettering itself is a new experience for us: coming to live and work there is a big adventure. We really like what we have seen of the town and the two churches and have been inspired by your vision as a parish for the future.”

Bishop Donald and Archdeacon Gordon are very grateful to all who helped with the preparation of the benefice profile, all the arrangements for the interview day and for the continuing and encouraging ministry of the parish in the service of Christ during the vacancy. We ask for your prayers for David and Carys as they prepare for their move.

The Venerable Gordon Steele
Archdeacon of Oakham