- My Greenbelt ticket has arrived!
- I’m going to Taize in a couple of weeks
- By which time I will have written 6000 words on essays for the MA module I am doing as part of my work training
- The second sock is past the heel and only the leg left to do – 55 rounds and counting
- Deanery chapter is this afternoon
- I can wander around the village chatting to people and it is part of work
- I’m preaching on Mary and Martha this Sunday (a triple bill – hopefully by the third time I’ll have got it nailed!)
Got to go. My lift will be here soon.
First time at my desk since the ordination. Thank you all very much for your good wishes and prayers. It was a lovely day and we’ve had a bit of a holiday in the south since then.
Legoland in half-term on a very hot day = quite an ordeal, but worth it for Rusk’s face when he met Lego Bob the Builder (bigger than he is).
Our tour of the M25 took in visits to some very lovely people, including a good friend’s wedding. Fantastic day all round. Rusk spent his time charming everyone, even playing football with the mother of the bride for half an hour. The next group of people we saw had a lovely garden, complete with climbing frame and slide. Mr F’s face when he saw Rusk had climbed to the top of the climbing frame by himself was a picture.
We were also introduced to the game of Bananagrams. Anyone else play? There is a Facebook app, but it doesn’t do the game justice. Marvellous fun.
Sunday morning was my first normal Sunday since the priesting. The vicar took the opportunity to have the day off so I was left to my own devices, ably assisted by the usual team. I was totally astounded when a lovely couple who had been very unsure about women priests came up to the rail and received communion. They have been very kind to me and we’ve had some good discussions about it over the year, but I really wasn’t expecting it. So lovely. Still brings tears to the eyes to think about it.
In other news: inauspicious, abnegate, writerly, efficacious, honorific, ostentation, sedulous, fallible, vinification, desuetude, pilose, ideate, arriviste, gimcrack, muliebrity and revile. Quite a collection of words to take in from my word a day calendar since I last looked at it.
I’m getting ready in the next few days to go on retreat before my ordination to the priesthood. There is a certain familiarity about the whole thing since the administrative side is very similar to last year when I was ordained deacon. My parishioners are getting a coach to come and watch me be made into ‘a proper vicar’, presumably as opposed to the improper vicar they see now!
The question everyone seems to be asking is whether I’m excited. Am I? There is not nearly as much change to come as a result of this ordination as there was last year. In the last month I haven’t had to move house, or start a new job, or get to know hundreds of new people all at once. I won’t have a whole new uniform for work on Monday – the dog collar took quite some time to get used to. The service will be much as last year, but this time I will know many more of the people there. Colleagues I had just met last year have become friends this year. It will definitely be a special time, but excitement isn’t the word. Maybe anticipation.
The only really new thing is presiding at Eucharist. Excitement definitely isn’t the word there. Nervousness is, not fear, but definite nervousness. So many things to remember, so many movements to coordinate with words, so much potential for clumsiness. And I’ll be wearing a chasuble… a big, thick poncho-type thing over a cassock-alb, over normal clothes, in the middle of summer! If I get to the end without collapsing from heat exhaustion that will be a miracle. I’m dealing with this in my usual way – assuming that I will forget everything that isn’t written down, and so making very sure that it is written down. My print-out of the Eucharistic prayer has stick-figures drawn all over it. I had a run-through of the logistics with the head server yesterday. It was scary enough standing behind the altar and looking down at an empty building. Can’t imagine how it is going to be with a packed (I hope) Church. Thank God none of us do things like this alone.
One very strange thing is realising that the ordination is the fulfilment of a calling I heard five years ago. If God said then, “you are going to be a priest”, I wonder what he’ll say next.
I’m off to one of the local schools now to talk about Pentecost. This time last year that would have had me in a flat panic. Bodes well…
My (earthly) boss says all Christians have a duty to vote. Then the leaders of the three largest parties try to persuade us that they are the Christian choice. What do you think?
Thanks to Maggi Dawn for the link.
Rusk woke me up (a rare happening in itself – it usually takes a mighty stramash to pierce the depths of sleep) at 5am today, well at 4.59 to be precise. Waking when there is a 4 in the hour seems so much more extreme than a minute later would have been. After taking ages to get back to sleep, the snooze button on my alarm was well and truly abused until I looked at the clock and there was only 5 minutes before morning prayer, at Church, 2 minutes walk away. Not a great start to the day. I am leading prayers this week – who knows what or who I prayed for during the intercessions, but my incumbent didn’t raise eyebrows too much, so it can’t have been too random.
The meeting with the local Methodist minister followed on straight afterwards. My incumbent is getting used to my first thing in the morning, after a disturbed night, bleariness, so fed me toast and decaff until I looked more human. Lovely man!
General admin until lunchtime followed this, then the final week of the Lent courses, with a bread and cheese (really good cheese – brie, wensleydale and stilton) lunch. The conclusion to the course was to try and persuade people to view PCC (parochial church council = church meeting) meetings as a time to integrate the gifts of the Spirit, that we see in those around us, with the opportunites in the community. i.e. start by recognising gifts and only then plan strategy, avoid starting projects when you don’t have the people to run it effectively. We looked at the beginning of Luke 10 and an interesting question was raised: why do we (i.e. the CofE) persevere with ministry to every community when there must be some where there is no welcome there? Why don’t we do as Jesus taught the seventy and shake the dust from our feet and walk away?
Evening prayer was just me, so after praying the office, I spent some time reading Thomas Merton – The Seven Storey Mountain. I like autobiography, but he comes across as so arrogant and rude, particularly towards the Anglican Church (although the passage I read today had a rather scathing account of the Quakers). I’m persevering with it a bit at a time, mostly because of the picture of him on the front cover. He is such a smiley person – it will be interesting to see the influences on him becoming a monk. I’ve only got to the beginning of his time at university at the moment – some way to go.
Now I’ve just got some hymns to pick for Monday’s Tenebrae service and then I might have a bit of a go at the next Settlers level.
A small group of us had a planning meeting recently for the Palm Sunday Service of the Word – (non-Eucharistic service, mostly lay led except me). I was intrigued by this idea we (but mostly they) came up with and thought I’d share for the benefit of people like me who sit up late into the evening googling for service ideas.
It is quite a simple idea (and may have been done before, but I’m not intentionally stealing it from somewhere else). At the beginning of the service, we are all going to have palm branches to wave in accompaniment to shouting Hosanna. After the reading of the entrance into Jerusalem, the people will go up in small groups to the altar rail and lay down the palm branches. A short time of silent confession will be encouraged, before receiving the assurance of forgiveness (would be absolution if a priest was present), along with the traditional palm cross. The service will then move into the Passion narrative.
What do you think?
So, last time I blogged was the end of half term. A couple of busy weeks later and here we are. I’ve just got back from Mums and Tots (who knows where the apostrophes are meant to go in there?) group and have about half an hour before evening prayer. Rusk loves being around groups of other kids. Today there was only one big tumble, two sharing er incidents and one hand covered in orange ink from the rubber stamp set. Successful I think. There are a couple of new families there so a fairly full room. I do like that it counts as work for me. So many things I do for work I really enjoy.
I’m off on a training day on Wednesday – preparing for priesthood. Not quite sure what it is going to cover, but it should be interesting. It’ll be nice to have a reunion with all the people I was deaconed with last year. Our diocese is quite large and we don’t see each other very often. After that (and Lent group in the evening) on Thursday I’m going back to school for the day. I am doing a bit of work in school regularly with collective worship, but I wanted to get more of a feel for how the school day works, hence spending a day there.
Today the task is to get the bulk of the work for Sunday done. One sermon – to be used twice – and one all age talk. Mothering Sunday – should be able to find something to say for that. Tricky to know how to strike a balance between Mothering Sunday being a celebration and yet being a very painful experience for the bereaved or those who had bad experiences of mothers.
In other news, here is what I did for the Ravelympics, the knitters’ attempt to justify lots of sitting in front of winter sports:
They were completed by the end of the olympics and so I qualify for medals:
The first one is the team medal for completing a project.
The second one is the event medal. I competed in Sock Hockey with some crochet socks. I also attempted the Lace Luge with a lace stole, but this will be a longer term project due to the faffiness of lace!
In case anyone was wondering, they aren’t meant to be a matching pair as far as colours go. Who said socks have to match anyway?
I’ve now moved on to making a scarf and am currently at the black hole stage of knitting, where you knit and knit and knit for an hour, yet the piece seems no longer. Ah well, it will pass eventually.
Back to the sermons I think.
So we are all off out to one of my churches for a party.
I have many happy memories of village pancake parties in my youth so I hope I can pass that on to some of the people here. One particular memory is the vicar walking round waving a frying pan in a rather menacing manner, trying to get people to enter the pancake-tossing competition. I shall attempt the same!
Lent-wise, I’m intending to read Maggi Dawn’s new book – Giving it up. I’ll let you know how I find it. Interesting discussion with my incumbent today about how to burn palm crosses to make ash.
In knitting news, I’m working on a stole (of the shawl type, not the clergy type) as my contribution to the knitting olympics on Ravelry. Slow going, but enjoyable.
Just popping my head over the parapet to affirm that there is life after the dissertation…
I always knew Advent was going to be busy in parochial ministry. Now I really KNOW it is busy.
That being said, I have a relatively clear day today. The Vicar and I are off to the local old people’s home this afternoon to bring seasonal cheer and the Sacrament, but after that (and evening prayer), I think I may have a free evening. Tomorrow we make the Christingles (with the help of the Brownies and Guides – eep!) and then Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve is a bit of a marathon. Two of the Churches have joined together for their evening service, but that still leaves three ‘midnight’ services running from 8.30pm to 12.30am. The Christingle is at 4.30pm and may be the biggest service of the year. The puzzling thing round here is that people don’t want a Christmas morning service. We only have one Christmas Day service, at 9.30am and then that is it.
Advent has been lovely – watching the candles in the Advent rings light one by one, (I think we lit the pink one in the wrong week, but no-one seems to mind), going through advent reflections and services. The really jarring note has been all the Christmas services and concerts – I love Christmas carols and definitely value the integration with the community, but it is the mental effort to return to an advent frame of mind over and over again that is the struggle. It is sort of like – “He’s here” “No he’s not” “Yes, here again” “Still waiting for Him”. But then on a larger scale, I suppose that is what happens with every turn of the season. Bit different when it happens twice a day for a month.
What can we do as a Church? Do we give in and announce Christmas early? Put the twelve days of Christmas starting on the 14th? If we ban all Christmas carols and celebrations until after the 25th then it becomes difficult for people to see the joy of Christmas within all the ‘stop that’. A previous incumbent here tried that approach and it did not go down well. There is part of me that wants to object that Christmas is ‘ours’ – it belongs to the Christians. In reality, of course, the midwinter feasting is probably older than Christianity, so the secular celebrations are as valid, if not more so. The only way that I can see to be Christian about it all is to join in, be glad that people still ask ‘the Church’ to be involved in celebrations and take the opportunity to share the good news. Waiting for Jesus is not meant to be easy.
I took a cursory glance into my baking cupboard before sending Mr F out to the supermarket this morning, but discovered later there were some key ingredients missing for making Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake (very easy cake – from Feast). No Guinness and very little cocoa powder. Not to worry, I have improvised. Half a bottle of Old Peculiar replaced the Guinness then I replaced the dry weight of cocoa powder that was missing with extra flour, then grated in some dark Divine chocolate to add extra chocolate flavour. The cake is now cooling and I am drinking the other half of the OP to avoid wastage. It seems to be OK. I’ll keep you posted.
I’ve been tinkering with a post on the Roman Catholic announcement this week, but I think I’ve decided some things are better left unsaid. I will just have a quick link: Dave Walker (@davewalker) drew my attention to this article by Frank Skinner in the Times. Very interesting point of view. Go have a quick peruse.
The other thing going around the web today is the whole BNP – Question Time thing. I’m sure most things have been said but, having stayed up to watch it last night, I was left wondering at the use (overuse?) of one particular word: elite. The “politcal elite” was mentioned by the BNP leader more than a few times, meant in a derogatory way. What does it mean? Presumably those in the main political parties. Do you know what? I think I want the country to be run by the political elite – those who are best at it, those with the skill, experience and talent to sort things out. Inverse political snobbery perhaps on his part. There are of course many other reasons for not voting for them.