Reverend Christine Judson
Getting to know you……
Reverend Christine Judson the Vicar of The Huntspills & Mark
In ‘normal’ times, settling into a new parish would involve quite a few chats over cups of tea. That is a bit difficult at the moment – so I hope this article will help a little, and may I recommend a cup of tea to go with it? I’ve been told that in ‘The Huntspills & Mark’ our children are really important, so I contacted our primary schools and asked what questions they would like to ask their new vicar. What follows is my attempt to answer those questions….
My name is Revd. Christine Judson, though ‘Rev Chris’ is a little easier, and ‘Chris’ is just fine. I’ve been a vicar for ten years, all of it in Portishead (just south of Bristol) and I really do like being a vicar. Before this I was a secondary school teacher of science (particularly physics) and maths. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching, especially when I could bring together different aspects like making (and eating) Baked Alaska to show the insulating properties of air(!). I became a vicar because I felt that God was calling me to do that, and so did other people – this was tested quite rigorously before I was accepted for training. In many ways it feels as though being a vicar makes sense of who I am, what I’ve done and experienced so far and who I am becoming. That said, I believe that being a vicar is more about depending on God than on myself.
I was born in the month of February, in a little village near Leicester, many years ago. My favourite colour is blue and my favourite animal is the penguin. I don’t currently have any pets, but I have had all sorts in the past – including a goat called Muttley. My favourite type of cake is Devil’s Food cake (a rich, moist chocolate cake, with coffee fudge icing), though I do try to eat a healthy and varied diet, without too much cake. Although I do not have any children of my own, I am richly blessed in my God-daughter, who is like a daughter to me. I enjoy travelling, and through school trips and holidays I have been to the following countries: England (though I guess that doesn’t count), Wales, Scotland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Tenerife, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia.
As a vicar I generally get up out of bed at about 7am. My life can vary a lot. I like the security of a routine, but I also need to be flexible – so if I have been working extremely late the night before, I sometimes have a lie-in to recover. I don’t have a uniform as such, but there are some things that identify my role – especially the clerical collar (white band at the front of my neck, informally referred to as a dog-collar). When I am leading a service I often wear special robes and it is always an honour to do this.
One of the joys of being a vicar is marrying people. Meeting couples, supporting them as they approach their wedding day, conducting their marriage service and being there for them in the future is a real delight. I am very much looking forward to doing that for couples in Mark, East Huntspill & West Huntspill Churches, whether or not they usually attend church. The church is there for all!
I’m not sure what my favourite Bible story is. I think it changes over time, though I am very fond of the parable that Jesus told of the lost sheep, where the shepherd leaves the 99 to search for the 1. As with so many of the parables, it seems to make no sense, so we have to dig deep to mine its depths. I like both the New Testament and the Old Testament – together they form a magnificent library of books with so much to explore that I will always be learning. Just like many others, I have been doing a lot of home-learning recently – via webinars as well as from books and the internet.
At the moment I still live in Portishead, but I am looking forward to moving into The Rectory, a house near the Church of St Peter & All Hallows in West Huntspill. The delay in my moving has been caused by a sensible and compassionate change in tenancy law brought about by our Prime Minister, Mr Boris Johnson, and his government to protect people from becoming homeless during the pandemic. We have had to make a lot of adjustments over the past year, haven’t we? I’m not scared of the virus, but I am wary of it – I’d rather not get it and really do not want to be responsible for spreading it.
I’d like to thank the children and staff of our primary schools for their questions. I hope my answers have helped you to start to get to know me. I am really looking forward to getting to know the people of The Huntspills & Mark – do feel free to contact me. I know there will be a lot for me to learn about, including the various school ‘House Points’ systems. Please be patient with me!
With God’s blessings,
Chris’ Blog: June 2021 Going wild?
So at last we’ve managed to get those haircuts, and the visible effects of lockdown, including our wilder hair styles, are being tamed! I did my best, with the front of my hair using nail scissors, but I certainly wasn’t brave enough to tackle the back. Getting a proper haircut feels SO good!
My new garden is proving rather more of a challenge. Its most recent keepers weren’t keen on gardening and everything had been left to go wild. The brambles and ivy had a riot and are going to take quite some time to tame. The diocese kindly sent someone to cut back the worst of it, and they did a stunning job, but there’s plenty more to do, and already new weeds are grasping the opportunity to thrive. I keep hearing the 80s Bow wow wow song in my head ‘Wild. Go Wild. Go wild in the country, where snakes in the grass are absolutely free.’ I haven’t spotted any snakes in my garden as yet, but as I think about the wildlife that is there, I realise how important it is not to go too mad in my attempts to impose order upon chaos. The hedges need trimming, but there are birds nesting there at the moment, so that will just have to wait. ‘Keeping some sort of control of the grass will be a start’, I thought, but then I discovered there was a national scheme called ‘No Mow May’ (https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/discover-wild-plants-nature/no-mow-may) encouraging gardeners not to mow their lawns during May, to let the wild flowers bloom, providing a feast of nectar for the hungry pollinators, including bees and butterflies. There was a scientific survey alongside this, ‘Every flower counts’, with an opportunity to get involved in finding out about the health of our nation’s wild flowers, and if you feel you’ve missed the boat – there’s still ‘Let It Bloom June’ and ‘Knee High July’. I’m guessing there will have to be a bit of compromise here, especially considering my starting position, but the basic principle is certainly valuable.
At a recent zoom session called ‘Wilder Churches’, I learned about a new partnership initiative between Somerset Wildlife Trust and the Diocese of Bath and Wells, supporting communities to get to know the wildlife in their local churchyard and to work together to find ways to increase the value of these special places for wildlife. Churchyards are often the oldest enclosed piece of land in a parish and many still support a rich variety of wildflowers and wildlife. Just like with our lawns and gardens, no one wants to see all our graves disappearing beneath ivy and brambles, but I believe that there is scope for compromise here, and for valuing our wildlife alongside our sense of order. As we honour the lives of those we have loved, we can also honour and support the wonders of creation.
Last month we celebrated Pentecost, also known as Whitsun, marking the coming of the Holy Spirit of God. There are a variety of images that help us to grasp the meaning of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament we find the Holy Spirit as “ruach” the very breath of God. In the New Testament, when Jesus was baptized, the spirit of God descended upon him as a dove and empowered him for mission. On the day of Pentecost, a rush of wind shook the house and heart of the disciples and flames of fire rested on their heads, transforming their fear and uncertainty into faith and conviction. In the Celtic tradition the Holy Spirit is represented not as a peaceful dove but instead as a “wild goose.” The wild goose reveals a spirit which is passionate, noisy, and courageous. This symbol reminds us that God’s spirit cannot be tamed or contained. Maybe we need to take care lest we impose our own sense of order too strongly upon our faith, as well as upon our lawns, and stymie the life-giving wonders of God.
Wishing you a wonderful summer, with a healthy dose of wildness!
God bless you,
Online Licensing Service
The Reverend Christine Judson has been licensed as Parish Priest for the Benefice of The Huntspills and Mark and we are looking forward to her been installed as Rector.