What do they say about waiting around for a bus? When you wait a long time you will find that two come along at once. (Although it might be that the bus no longer runs on this route sadly). I am not sure that this also applies to Bishops. I spoke to Bishop Robert just before Easter at a meeting and he commented that he had not visited our villages. I was delighted to invite him to come and be with us. He is coming to Tedburn St Mary Parish Church on the 30th of October for a Communion service at 10.30 am. We will be remembering All Saints Day. The last time the Bishop of Exeter visited our churches was 25th June 2007. I remember the date very clearly as it was the day that I became the priest in charge of these churches. That was over fifteen years ago. As you can see visits by the Bishop of Exeter are a special occasion. You might have to wait a long time for another opportunity.
I guess most of us have experienced the visit of a very important person. There are often weeks of planning and panic at the end to get everything just right for the visit. I remember in Wells, the Queen was coming for her Golden Jubilee. The council decided to upgrade the road on the High Street. Needless to say, the work was running late! The roadworks suddenly were happening twelve hours a day, seven days a week to finish in time. When the very important guest arrives, they are shown around and introduced to some of the local important people. Their visit is often brief just a couple of hours at the most. Most people just get to watch the event as part of the crowd. I always remember just how much work goes into the hosting. I wonder if you have met someone really important and what impression they made on you? Hopefully, the impression has been positive and it has inspired you to do or continue doing great things.
Returning to the visit of the Bishop of Exeter, it is a great chance to meet someone important. My prayer is that the Bishop will point to an even more important truth. Our relationship with God needs cultivating and maintaining. The church relies on people to make church. Whilst the buildings are important and significant, without people coming together in church they lose their function as a meeting place for people with God. Just as there is an invitation to come to meet the Bishop, there is also an invitation to become part of the local church congregation. When we can work together we are always able to do more than we expected. It is often the case we are surprised by God’s great generosity in ways that we never anticipated.