‘I’ve gone back to jail and found the true meaning of Christmas’

Dec 22, 2018 by

by Jonathan Aitken, Mailonline:

Christmas has never before been such a joyful season in my life.

Like most people, I have minor worries and grumbles. But the big picture is one of glorious contentment.

Why? Because at the ripe old age of 76 I have a new job, or vocation as it is called in the spiritual world, which I find totally absorbing, fulfilling, challenging and the source of deep happiness.

In June, I was ordained at St Paul’s Cathedral by the Bishop of London.

For the past six months, I have been working as a prison chaplain at HMP Pentonville and a curate at St Matthew’s Church, Westminster. And there is never a dull moment in either establishment.

At a time when most sensible septuagenarians are putting their feet up, the so-called quiet and contemplative month of Advent has kept me in overdrive.

I am almost as busy as I was in my previous life as a Cabinet minister.

This month, I have officiated or preached at 11 spiritual events in venues ranging from prisons to cathedrals, schools, churches, charities, business offices, think tanks, retirement homes and government departments. These occasions, many of them carol services, are by no means the preserve of committed Christians.

As I said to a 200-strong gathering of sceptical diplomats in the Locarno Room of the Foreign Office this week: ‘The atmosphere here reminds me of the story of a visiting preacher being warned by a church verger, “You’ll have to speak up! The agnostics in this place are something terrible”.’

What I have learned this year is that the best moments of a clergyman’s life are not spent trying to convert agnostics, singing hymns or preaching sermons. They are found in the quiet times of private prayer for wounded souls.

Read here

Read also: ‘Light in the Darkness’ – Rev’d Jonathan Aitken preaches Christmas sermon to the Foreign Office by Archbishop Cranmer


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