The other day, someone in the office wanted to check the date. "It is the 29th, isn't it?" she questioned. "Yes," I replied, "St. Michael's day ... sometimes called Michaelmas." Someone else asked, "How do they celebrate that?" Facetiously, I said, "By getting ordained, I think. It seems to be the season for it." I also added that, in times past at least, it was the day when farms would change hands: the time when the harvest had been gathered in and so that new crops could be sown under new management.
Certainly, it is a time for new beginnings. Two of my friends were ordained deacon at the weekend, one who has recently been appointed curate at my church and the other whose family is part of our congregation and who is now serving her curacy a few miles away. And on Tuesday evening the young woman who had been ordained deacon last June, and is serving in the parish where I have been ringing bells, was made a priest.
For all three of them - and many others, too - this will mark a new stage in their lives. The same applies, too, to farmers looking ahead to a new farming year, whether they remain in the same farm they have been running for many years, or are now taking on a different holding.
Covid-19 has brought changes in many thousands of lives. Some have lost loved ones; some have had to re-think the shape of their working lives; some, indeed, have had their works completely overturned, whether being furloughed as a result of not being able to carry on their work, or worse, now out of work altogether because their employer has gone out of business.
Some famous words are to be found in the third chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes, the Preacher. The writer has drawn together several pairs of opposites and suggests that there is a proper time for each. Many of these pairs can be interpreted as 'endings and beginnings'. He says there is "a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build; ... a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; ... a time to tear and a time to sew; ... a time for war and a time for peace." (Eccl. 3: 2-3, 5, 7 & 8).
Over the last few months, I've found in the various sectors of my life, certain things coming to an end and others either beginning or taking on a new form, or a new life. With a general decline in readership over the last year or so, I've decided that it's time for Gospel Around Us, to be drawn to an end ... at least in its present form.
May I take this opportunity to thank those faithful readers some of whom have been following this blog since it first appeared nearly ten years ago. If and when it re-appears, or something else takes its place, I'm sure I shall announce it in my companion blog, which will continue.