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January 7th 2019
Yesterday was the farewell service for my Dad, who has retired as a vicar, and so I made my way down to Somerset for the service (and a gathering afterwards where my parents were presented with some gifts, and I ate lots and lots of food). Anyways, as part of the service Dad, Mum, Simon & I all chose a couple of hymns to sing, and we were all asked to say a little something to introduce them (albeit the brief wasn't too specific, so I decided to talk a bit about life as a vicar's son over the years). I thought I'd reproduce my script, so you can see what I was planning to say - and, if you were there and have a good memory, you can see what I cut out, either accidentally or deliberately, and what I ad libbed on the day. Here it is:

I'm Colin, although many of you will know me by a different name: Simon. Or sometimes even Peter, which I always took as rather a compliment, rather than a comment on my beard and ongoing hair loss.
I've been asked to talk a bit about what it's like to be the son of a vicar. I find that a difficult question to answer it's rather like the question Simon & I often get, which is what it's like to be a twin. The thing is, I've never not been a twin, and I've never not been the son of a vicar or, at least, not until now. So perhaps I'll shortly be able to give you an insightful view into what it's like not to be the son of a vicar.
As a vicar's son, I have been privileged to be heavily involved in church life. I have sung in choirs, been a sidesperson, played music, and, in a previous church, rung the bell in every service, shortly before it had to be blocked off as unsafe to ring. I have probably turned down more coffee than any other man in Somerset. Unlike my mother, though, I have never dressed as a Christingle orange.
Another question I was often asked growing up was if I'd like to be a vicar as well indeed, people still occasionally ask me if I'd considered it. This always seemed a bit strange, as well if I found out that someone's father was an accountant, I wouldn't ask them if they'd be an accountant too but I never had any difficulty in giving an answer. Which was no. God hadn't called me to it; also, I'm pretty sure I couldn't do it. Having seen Dad be a vicar all these years, I've seen his gifts of patience, love, diplomacy, perseverance and genuine concern for others, and I see why God called him to this job. I would not be able to do it.
On the other hand, I'm in an amateur dramatics group in Bristol and played a vicar in a play a couple of years ago. At that time it was very useful to have a contact who could provide me with a dog collar.
The greatest thing about growing up in a vicarage is, in fact, the greatest thing about anyone growing up with a Christian influence in their lives: learning early the truth about who God is. My parents never forced me to be Christian I don't think it's possible to force someone to be a Christian but, as you probably know, I am indeed a follower of Jesus. One of the most exciting things about leaving home and going to University was that my relationship with God was mine, and it wasn't tied to one particular church or parish, or to my Dad's job. Today it is a great joy to be able to worship God here as well as to worship him in my church in Bristol. And it is by the grace of God that I know that, while Dad is wonderful, he is only the second best of my fathers.
I want to thank you for the welcome that I've had whenever I've been here, the interest that you have taken in my life in Bristol, the love you clearly have for my parents, and for those special times when you've got my name right. The first hymn I've chosen today is a beautiful hymn about what Jesus did for us, and the response it demands from us, and is in fact one that I chose for our farewell service when we left Worcestershire: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

what am I listening to?
Ain't No Sunshine - Various Artists
what am I reading?
Insider Black Mirror - Charlie Brooker & Annabel Jones
what am I watching?
...And Justice For All
January 2019

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