A sermon of farewell given at the 8am BCP Eucharist and 10.30am Sung Eucharist on Sunday 10 July, by The Rev’d Peter Jin, Assistant Priest
Time goes fast. The original plan for me to stay here was 2 years, but as you know, I made some fatal mistakes. So I have got this extra six months as punishment. Let me give you one example. I nearly damaged the 2.4 tons bell in the bell tower.
At the beginning of Covid, Dean Frank asked me to ring the bell every day to remind people that the church door was closed, but we were still here to pray for you.
After the first week of ringing the bell, my arms were really sore. I did check my job description. It did say I was asked to move thousands of chairs during my curacy, but ringing the bell is not mentioned anywhere in my contract.
I remembered Frank once told me to use my initiative in ministry. So I came up with a very creative way to ring the bell. I left my feet in the air and I could jump really high. I flied with the heavy bell which is 2 tons. I had a lot of fun.
But I only had a good time for a few minutes, and then the bell was stuck in the bell tower. The rope was somehow locked and I could not pull it down.
I phoned Kevin Stracey, the master of the bell ringers, what happened. He must be frightened, and he mumbled “Please please don’t touch anything. I am coming.” Since then I permanently lost his friendship.
Ok, it is time to say something serious. I first want to thank Frank Nelson who was willing to train me to be a priest. Frank you are a good priest and you are my role model.
Jenny, I also want to thank you. You taught me how to do weddings, funerals and baptisms, and how to lead pastoral care meetings and you tried your best to coach me how to preach as elegantly and skilfully as you. Unfortunately the preaching coaching did not work on me. I keep saying inappropriate jokes.
I want to thank Lynn and Joan, I want to thank Bill Goodes, Stephen Pash, Stuart Langshaw, Acting dean Adrian, then Bishop Chris in the past 6 months: all clergy I mentioned the above taught me a lot.
Kate and Rachel and Suzanne also helped me in some ways.
What a wonderful team at St Peter’s Cathedral.
Also I want to thank YOU, the parishioners, who really welcomed, supported and encouraged me. You put up with my Chinese accent and you laugh even for those bad jokes which were not funny at all.
Now I want to thank Les Milner, Sandy Mitchell and Susie Clark. You spent hours and hours on my English. Especially Les, you helped every sermon I preached in 2.5 years. So dear parishioners, if you don’t like my sermon, blame Les.
I am excited and look forward to my new journey, which is to lead a small congregation in Salisbury.
One year ago, there were five full time vacancies in our diocese. Wei, my wife and I visited these churches and I strongly felt called to go to St. John’s Salisbury. Wei supported my vision to go there. So we started to look for a house in Salisbury. We nearly bought a house there. But the timing was not right because the Archbishop did not think I was ready.
Wei said I should practise my patience and wait and see. Then I started to pray for this virtue and asked God to do something.
Last October, Wei and I bought a house in Torrens Park, and then a month ago, I got a letter from the Archbishop, and he told me he was happy to give me 6 months’ probation in Salisbury.
I will move to my new home tomorrow. I will spend 3 hours travelling every day, which involves two trains, I will leave home by bike to Torrens Park to the city and the city to Salisbury. And then go to St Johns Salisbury church by bike.
THANK YOU Archbishop, and I hope you have a good time in UK.
In today’s Gospel Jesus answers the question ‘who is my neighbour?’ and tells of the call to serve others in need.
I will be in a very diverse neighbourhood in Salisbury with wonderful challenges and opportunities to serve. I pray that by God’s grace I will never ‘pass by on the other side’ like the priest in the Gospel, …mindful of Jesus’ command to serve others…, “Go and do likewise”.
I will miss you brothers and sisters in the Cathedral, and I hope and pray this community continues to thrive.
God bless you. Amen.