Monday, 18 January 2016

A Walk in the Parish
The first week of my sabbatical has been a 'tidying up' week - literally tidying up my study and throwing away great quantities of paper, books that I've never read and never will, reorganizing my desk and generally decluttering. Sorting out the remaining matters of my late father's estate, and attending to our flat in Purley. In between I've had time to read a fascinating book by Patrick Leigh Fermor about his travels by foot from Calais to Constantinople in 1934 - it made me wonder if I should have planned to travel like that during these 3 months. But I have enjoyed walking up to Farthing Downs and imagining myself a country parson as I pass the cows grazing up there. Later today I'll be joining my Italian class in Croydon.

Yesterday I visited the first of the other churches in the deanery of Croydon South - The Hayes Church. As part of the mission of St Barnabas and All Saints' Kenley, the congregation there has been meeting since November in The Hayes School. I received a warm and friendly welcome and was struck by the sense of the presence of God among the people there. A congregation of about 30 adults  of all ages, and a dozen or 15 children. Simple but direct worship, engaging preaching, a real sense of fellowship, care and prayer. I wish them all the very best, and hope to see more signs of the church growing like this round the deanery.

From tomorrow I will be working on my main creative project: writing fables based on the teaching of St Paul. The idea for this sprang up some years ago when I became aware of the lack of any material from the epistles in most children's bibles. It's easy enough to tell stories that are already stories, that is in narrative form. But to unfold adult didactic teaching for children is quite a challenge. My experience of taking assemblies at our church school has taught me the value of story telling, and that a well-crafted story can really draw people in, both young and old. So my aim is to write stories that draw on St Paul's teaching. I use the word 'fable' because a fable doesn't have to be rooted in a historically accurate setting. Part of my project will involve reading children's fairy tales, and fables such as those collected by the Grimm Brothers. These are stories that have stood the test of time because they have a timeless quality about them, and have powerful themes. i don't know if my efforts will stand comparison with them, but I'm going to have a go anyway!

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