Neighbours

I’m always impressed that whenever I’m out walking the streets of the parish with the vicar, we never reach our destination without stopping to greet a few people along the way. Having had the ‘cure of souls’ for the parish for over decade, he’s a familiar face to many, but he also goes out of his way to catch up with those he recognises. It’s an admirable quality that I hope I’ll be able to emulate in my ministry.

Today, we headed out for a lunch meeting (at which the vicar would pick my brains about Twitter) at the church’s second office (the cafe on the corner of my street) and within two minutes had stopped to check on someone. As we reached the cafe, we bumped into our most well-known parishioner – a Hollywood actor in fact. The vicar greeted him just as he had the hospital worker we’d passed moments before and the actor returned the greetings with enthusiasm. After a pleasant exchange about the actor’s recent West End run, I was introduced and we shook hands.  Seconds later, we departed to get on with our meeting.

The actor concerned is Rupert Everett, a resident of the parish and a nearby neighbour of mine. On my very first visit to the area with a view to potentially taking up a placement here, his residence was pointed out on my parish tour. (I presume the idea was to illustrate the diversity of the local population – I was sold!) In my first term, he read at the community carol service, but I, ever the introvert, did not put myself forward for an introduction (despite being terribly excited). To quote the vicar’s 9 year old daughter – who had a lengthy interaction with him – I should have ‘got in on the chat!’.

Rupert EverettObviously, I was deeply disappointed that the beard’s not currently in residence.

It’s been 10 months since I moved into my flat and today was the first time I’d ever spotted Rupert on the street. Seven hours later, I returned home and passed him outside my building. You wait ages for one bus and then two come along at once…

Obviously, there’s a ministerial formation lesson to be learnt here:
In ministry, every member of the congregation and parish is equal – there are no celebrities. In a culture that idolises celebrity, it’s incredibly important to give everyone space, respect and love, regardless of how the rest of society treats them. So, I need to get over my starstruck-ness and get on with loving the parishioners… 

Incidentally, if you believe that Rupert hasn’t done much of note since My Best Friend’s Wedding (basically, I just want his character from that film in my life), you clearly haven’t watched Hysteria (it’s a little bit dodgy but essentially about women’s liberation in the Edwardian era) or Parade’s End – my favourite TV drama of 2012. Reacquaint yourselves with his genius. You won’t regret it!

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