Madeley Village

Vicar’s Letter Easter 2024

In March I spent quite a bit of time thinking about ‘vocation’. My wife Clare had her forthcoming curacy confirmed, once ordained in the summer she will be curate at St. Giles’, Newcastle and St. Thomas’, Butterton.

Also in March I saw the news in the Church Times that the Venerable Dr Barry Wilson (former vicar of Betley and Madeley) is to retire as the Archdeacon of Montgomery.

Meanwhile early in March I had the privilege of helping with some teaching at a curates’ formational residential, one of the curates, Rev Jim Cartlidge, now curate in Stone, was an ordinand from Betley.

In March, All Saints’ Madeley welcomed the bishop of Stafford, Bishop Matthew, to lead a confirmation service.

So the idea of ‘vocation’ has been on my mind. And when we are talking about vocation we are really talking about God’s calling.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but so far this vicar’s letter has been jam-packed with odd churchy words…

Vocation. Curacy. Ordained. Curate. Venerable. Vicar. Archdeacon. Formational. Ordinand. Bishop. Confirmation.

Too often when we think about the idea of God calling people, we think of people with white plastic clergy (another churchy word) dog-collars. But a key Christian doctrine (another churchy word!) is that God longs for all people to identify what they are called to do with the precious life they’ve been given.

Whether we are particularly ‘churchy’ or not, I sincerely believe that God wants the best for us and wants to see us living life in all its fullness. I wonder what that might look like for you?




Sparks of Joy

What brings you joy? Where do you find inspiration and delight? As a child I was a member of the YOC – Young Ornithologists Club, I was fascinated by birds. Near to where I grew up in Yorkshire was a waterfall where for a time, a kingfisher could regularly found flying over the river. The colours and speed of the bird made a real impression on me.

During the lockdowns of a few years ago I really rediscovered my delight in birds. I downloaded an app that identified birds by their calls. I was finally able to work out which bird was singing in our garden in Gosport, despite never actually seeing the bird.

When I would go for my allowed exercise I took to noticing the birds more than I had in the busy rush of purposefully travelling from A to B before the lockdown. And in the haze of lockdown exercise I discovered a new favourite. The pied wagtail. These elegant black and white, sparrow-sized birds that swoop up to rooftops so gracefully and yet scurry along the floor with hurried footsteps.

Recently my car was in the garage in Newcastle. It had been in a fight with a pot hole and the pothole had very definitely won. While I waited for my car to be repaired I went for a coffee, did some work and then went for a “mooch”, a wander around the town, when to my delight a pied wagtail landed a few metres away. I stopped walking and took great delight in watching the bird run around the street until it in one moment flew up to a rooftop, peering down at me for a second before disappearing completely.

A joyous interruption to a bit of a dull day. The rest of the people in the town centre carried on with their jobs, their walks, tasks and talks, and for a moment, a very memorable moment I was stopped by joy! How easily I notice things that spark joy in me when my head isn’t down, rushing from A to B. I wonder, how might we cultivate mindful contemplative practices to enable us to slow down and find delight in what the world places before us?