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Vicar's Musings for the First Sunday in Advent

2 December, 2012

Last Week's A.G.M.

My thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make last week's AGM such a success. I gather we had the biggest turn out in some time and the overall tenor of the meeting was very positive as we considered the 2012-15 Mission Action Plan "Growing in Gods Love", presented the finances and ratified the Budget, and considered the Church Wardens' and other reports from those in leadership in the parish. When giving thanks, one always runs the risk of not mentioning key people who contribute quietly and faithfully to the life and health of the church. I'd like to add to the list of those I thanked last week: Peter Ondaatje, the envelope secretary, who works so hard behind the scenes overseeing our planned giving; and David Morrell, who along with Adam Blackmore is usually the first to arrive to set up at a St Peter's function and is always the last to leave, he also volunteers unstintingly in the gardens each week. At today's service we will commission the new vestry, and give thanks for the ministry of the laity and clergy in our parish. To everyone from Wardens to faithful weekly pew-sitters and generous givers ... THANK YOU.

There were a handful of issues raised, without notice, at the end of the A.G.M. that may have been confusing to some of the newer members especially. Most of these relate to difficult decisions that were made by Vestry prior to my arrival. I have been fully briefed (by both sides!) so please feel free to talk to me or another member of Vestry if you'd like any clarification. In relation to this, however, I'd like to underline two things. Firstly, St Peter's had an eighteen-month interregnum, which is an extremely long time for a parish of this size and complexity. After seven months in the parish I now have a very clear insight into the bigger picture and I fully commend the Wardens and Vestry, under the leadership of Locum tenens Bishop Graeme, for the professional and often sacrificial way they managed the parish over that time. Secondly, for goodness sake, let's put a line under it! It's the Christian thing to do. Forgiveness is not about blind forgetting, but it is about moving on graciously and restoring relationships proactively. As human beings, there is always a temptation to hold on to past hurts; this can go on for years, even decades. But bearing a grudge damages our own inner wellbeing as well as that of the community we belong to. Jesus put it rather well: "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us."

Anniversary of the Death of Charles Joseph La Trobe and Links with St Michael the Archangel, Litlington, Sussex

Today we remember Victoria's first Governor, Charles Joseph La Trobe, who died on 4 December 1875, in Litlington, Sussex. He is buried in the churchyard at St Michael the Archangel in the village of Litlington, and is remembered every year in that parish, on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of his death, when the congregation honours their famous late fellow parishioner. La Trobe worshipped at St Peter's Eastern Hill, having laid its foundation stone on 18 June 1846, and our remembrance of him today coincides with the service being held at St Michael the Archangel, Litlington. La Trobe arrived in Melbourne in 1839 as Superintendent of the Port Phillip District of New South Wales with his wife Sophie and their two-year-old daughter Agnes - three more children were born in Melbourne. During the 14½ years he was here he worked to set up a moral, Christian society in early Melbourne. It was he who set in place many of our institutions: the State Library, the University of Melbourne, the Melbourne Hospital and public gardens. He departed Melbourne in May 1854. La Trobe lived for the last ten years of his life, from 1866 to 1875, at Clapham House, Litlington, set amidst the pretty green Sussex countryside, and it is the vicar of that parish, Rev James Howson, who will lead his congregation in honouring our first Governor today. Members of the C. J. La Trobe Society in Melbourne have been invited to join the parishioners of St Peter's as we celebrate Advent Sunday.

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster

Illustration for Advent 1 Musings

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