At the last meeting of our website group we discussed the fashion for flashy websites with moving pictures and bright colours - would George Herbert approve, we asked ourselves. Some said “no, too gaudy”, but others said that in his early years at Cambridge he had been quite flamboyant himself. He was criticized for putting “too great a value on his parts and parentage”
Of course, we all knew there were two George Herberts - one the ambitious courtier, the other the humble parson. I then went on to describe my own previous life - I used to be on drugs, live in a squat, and was not really a very nice person. Then God met me and has been working on me ever since to make me quite a different person, hardly recognisable even to myself. The Bible calls this being made a new creation, and it is fundamental to Christianity that people ought to be given another chance in life. Not to be defined by your first life but a fresh start. And as Herbert's ‘The Flower’ tells us, such chances can be at any time – “And now in age I bud again”.
And the flowers are to be our inspiration when we consider not what to wear, but trusting in God to provide for our needs. Yet who is dressed as well as a flower? I am not a great one for clothes - scruffy would be the adjective most often used of me - yet even I can see that what we wear is important. In fact I know that like it or not we judge each other instantly by them. Uniforms are interesting - they are designed to cover up individuality, and show allegiance to a greater body. My new curate, Ali, will be getting used to our uniform, which is always an unnerving experience.
Every other uniform I’ve worn - school, scouts etc I’ve been in a group of people, so you don’t notice or stand out. When you’re the only one in something different, you feel like the only person in fancy dress at the party. Everyone stares at you, strangers say hello (but you’re never sure whether you know them, or they know you, or are they meaning someone else?), and people treat you differently. If you’re wondering how different it was in Herbert’s day, see my talk with historian John Chandler as part of the upcoming George Herbert Festival.
Our website is updated every three months or so. Please carry on visiting so we can keep you up to date with the news from Bemerton Parish.