Thank you to all those manual workers

The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Christopher Foster, feels manual work is just as important as academic achievement Picture: Sarah Standing
The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Christopher Foster, feels manual work is just as important as academic achievement Picture: Sarah Standing
James Taylor at his desk in his office at 116 High Street, Old Portsmouth.

Those halcyon days when pen and paper just worked!

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Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Christopher Foster talks about how much he appreciates those who work with their hands

I hope you have enjoyed some rest during the summer months. I spent much of my summer break painting my home.

I realise it’s not everyone’s idea of a good way to spend a holiday but I love painting and DIY.

It takes my mind off work and helps me to wind down.

I love everything about the process – deciding what I’m going to do, preparing everything neatly, choosing my materials, putting down dust sheets so that I don’t make too much of a mess, and then achieving something that I can hopefully be proud of.

Thankfully I’m not alone in my hobby.

Lots of people enjoy doing their homes up, and challenging themselves to learn a new skill or two.

And of course Jesus himself was a carpenter.

Mostly when we think about Jesus we think about his birth, or the miracles he performed or his teaching, or his death on the cross.

It’s easy to forget that for most of his life he was a skilled craftsman who learned his trade from his father.

When I’m doing DIY in my house, I like to remember Jesus as a man who took pride in his craftsmanship, who delighted in the work of his hands.

I imagine him preparing for each job, working hard, admiring what he had achieved, then cleaning his tools and organising his work space in preparation for the next job.

I often think that it was in the long hours of his manual work that he learned some of the important skills of his later ministry.

The attention to detail, the patience, the stamina, the physical strength – all this would become essential as he set about caring for the people around him.

In a society that often prizes academic achievement over manual work, it’s too easy to overlook the hard work going on around us all the time, that keeps our streets clean and our homes and public buildings in such good order.

My holiday has reminded me to give thanks for the incredible skills of those who clean and paint and decorate, those who build and mend.

If you are one of those people, thank you!