What’s the most exciting thing about a relay race? Not the speed, for me at any rate – it’s the handing on of the baton which is the really key moment. Will it get dropped? Will one of the runners get out of position and be disqualified? Or will it all go really smoothly, the team working together like clockwork, and sometimes beating opposition who may be individually quicker, but not so well organised?

The Croydon Episcopal Area Team

I hope the connection’s pretty obvious. As I’ve come to the end of my ministry in Southwark, I’ve been looking back o the ten years I’ve been here, reflecting on what I’ve done, and not done, what’s gone well and not so well. There have been many times of rejoicing. It’s been a particular privilege to appoint clergy into posts, and in most cases to see them and the places under their care flourishing. It’s been pure joy to ordain candidates for priesthood, and last year the deacons also. There have been so many celebrations in parishes across the area, for building projects completed, for anniversaries, and especially confirmations. And of course there have been times of sadness and difficulty, when relationships break down or when disasters strike.

My time is coming to an end, but nothing else is finishing. Over these last few months I have been handing on my various responsibilities to those who will pick up the baton and run with it next. I don’t think any of us have dropped anything, but time will tell! But as well as the specific roles and responsibilities, there’s something else, something which involves all of us who are part of Christ’s body in the Diocese of Southwark. All of us (absolutely all of us – not just bishops, not just clergy) make some difference to the body of Christ of which we are part. All of us leave a legacy, and by God’s grace it will be a legacy of grace. That is to say, through us Christ’s body will have learnt a little more of what it is to live the life of Christ in the world. Bishops have a higher public profile, but God’s Holy Spirit is at work equally in all God’s people.

So as I move on to new things, my hope and prayer is that what I have done may have helped us as a Diocese to reflect a little more of the infinite love of God. And I will continue to pray for you all, that you who hold the baton in the future may also run the race faithfully and joyfully, hearts on fire with the good news of the Gospel.