It was an incredibly happy day - stressful, nerverwracking, emotional and tiring yes - but ultimately a wonderful day surrounded by friends, family, supporters, old and new parish friends and the Diocesan community.
Many people have commented at how content, relaxed and happy Andy looked and many of these photos show that so clearly. I enjoyed the service far more than I thought I would. The kids were brilliant, Matilda reading and eating sweets on the front row and Isaac playing with his cousins in the creche and occasionally yelling! I relaxed into the worship, felt very present in the moment, particularly the moment of ordination. The choir sang an incredible Veni Sancti Spiritus so gently and quietly while each ordination was happening - it was so moving and God felt very, very close in that moment.
For me, another moment of 'connection' came after the distribution of Communion had ended and gradually, everyone back in their seats joined in with singing In Christ Alone (Stuart Townend). As the music and the voices swelled the words really hit home: 'No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life's first cry, to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from his hand. Til he returns, or calls me home. Here in the power of Christ I stand." I wanted to stand so badly.....! But I was a bit teary eyed so I may have fallen over if I'd got up too quick....!
On Sunday 29th June we received a wonderful parish welcome with a fantastic lunch and a chance to begin to get to know people. Andy's parents, brother, sister in law and my mum, plus a number of other friends were able to stay on and see him Deacon for the Eucharist and it was a fun and informal service, perfect for our slightly loony kids! We're looking a bit weary in this picture but it was such a lovely afternoon finishing off a memorable weekend. Thank you St Andrews and Holy Cross church family!
It's a strange feeling now, having these three weeks in limbo, being neither fully in Hutton nor Basildon but we will be moving in to the new house, 2 weeks today. Before then, we have some sorting of this current house to do and coordinating some work at the new house, including flooring, decorating and plastering. We're also hosting a little (40 people!!) goodbye party for our special Hutton buddies as well as some of Matilda's school friends just before the end of term. I'm not quite ready for that yet - we're not moving far and yet it feels like a big and final 'end' to what has been.....I'm so excited to move but so sad to leave.
For Andy, he's really relished the chance to get stuck into all the different aspects of parish ministry that he's been training for the last 3 years to do - baptism visits, bereavement ministry, youth work, preaching, leading worship, helping encourage people in discipleship and mission. He looks great in a collar too! I'm just so incredibly proud of him for all the hard work and discipline and sacrifice he has put in, not only in the last 3 years but right from the beginning of hearing the call of God on his life and being prepared to say 'Yes'. Above all, we know that God has called us, in different ways with different 'uniforms'! He who has called us is faithful and we are called as a family on mission - 4 for the price of 1!
Thanks so much to those who came to support us, who prayed or emailed or wrote from afar, to those who helped with the children or preparing for the after party. Will do our best to continue blogging this journey, in the hope that things may calm down a bit now....!