Our local night shelter for the homeless has just reopened and will remain open for the whole of the Autumn/Winter period.
For those who make an annual donation to a charity at Christmas time, may I humbly suggest your local night shelter this year?
Here in the Vicarage, we make a small monthly contribution towards our local night shelter for the 6 months that they are open, in fact I have just made an online donation. For the remaining 6 months, we alternate between the foodbank and the college of St Barnabas. The college of St Barnabas provide sheltered accommodation and residential care to retired Anglicans especially clergy and missionaries.
Since lockdown, I have been trying without success to send our tithes and offering electronically. It was only yesterday that I was able to complete what should have been a simple task! Why you might ask?
The first problem I faced was trying to get the bank details from the respective church wardens. As we are a multi parish benefice, we try to be fair. I had to wait for weeks before the first parish church came back to me with their bank details. I was even beginning to wonder if church bank details were actually confidential. About a fortnight ago, I received 2 more but one of the bank details was inaccurate. Thankfully it was resolved yesterday.
I sat in front of my laptop and went to the Royal Bank of Scotland’s digital banking page. I was able to log in no bother and I arranged for the money to be transferred. As I was transferring money to a new payee, for security purposes, I needed to use my card reader. The words “No Power” kept flashing every time I turned on the reader. Soon I learned that I either change the batteries in the card reader or request a new one. There was no way I was going to change the batteries so I requested for a new one. Guess what? It will take 7 long days to arrive! So what was I to do in the meantime??? As I related my plight to the Mhinisteir, he reminded me that there is always a spiritual element to everything we do. Hearing his words made me even more determined to complete the transaction. I knew we had a second card reader so I decided to ransack my handbag.
The good news is that I managed to find the second reader and complete the transaction. The bad news is that I am still waiting for the bank details of half a dozen more of our churches. Maybe this is one of the reasons why most churches are poor!
The Coronavirus lockdown has meant that the Mhinisteir is working from home except when he has to conduct funerals. The Vicarage telephone has been very busy with both incoming and outgoing calls. Everyday among other things, the Mhinisteir has been trying to ring his parishioners to enquire and pray with them. With us being in a multi parish benefice, he has a lot of parishioners! He has also been receiving telephone calls from parishioners especially the elderly who are afraid and are already thinking about their funerals and are making tentative arrangements! So it is business as usual with at the Vicarage.
As for me, I am quite enjoying the peace and quiet as we don’t have anyone knocking on the door except delivery people. It is also nice to have the house to ourselves as there are no meetings held at the Vicarage.
Sadly, we have had a couple of suicides in our parishes which is worrying.
Finally, as more and more people lose their jobs, I have put together some tinned food etc for anyone who might knock on the Vicarage door.
We moved into our new Parish and my health was beginning to look up. However, a few months into the new year, we had a few sudden deaths in our family/friendship circle acutely reminding us of our own fragility.
The Mhinisteir found his new parish very challenging. There were a lot of unresolved problems that he had inherited. My own health was beginning to go downhill very quickly. It was discouraging. Serious illnesses were beginning to plaque older family members. Fair weather friends were exposed. Even though I am used to this, it still hurts when people break your trust!!!
Fast forward to December 2019, things were very different. Life is more settled. Health is still like a yoyo but I am contented. God was with us and constantly reminded us that we are never on our own like for example when we got this huge bill just before Christmas. In a miraculous way, it was all sorted within a week for it is He who owns the cattles in a thousand hills.
As I step into 2020, I do not have any resolutions but am going to cling on to His promise as it is found in Isaiah 52
For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your reward. – Isaiah 52:12
Happy New Year to all who faithfully read my blog!!
Christmas at the Vicarage is getting simpler by the year!
As expected, December is a very busy month for the Mhinisteir. I will be glad to have him home once he finishes his final service on Christmas Day.
I usually tend to the presents and the Christmas meal. Over the past few years, I have been forced to keep everything to the bare minimum due to health reasons. I will be going to the midnight service.
The presents have been mostly distributed. Lunch will be a simple roast chicken. The Mhinisteir has said that he wants to catch up on his sleep after lunch so his wish will be granted.
Holidaying at home is not an option if you live in a Vicarage so we will get away at some point for a good few days of peace and quiet.
I never post pictures on my blog but since it is the festive season, I will bend the rules and post some pictures.
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us – Matthew 1:23
As I was going through the piles of Christmas cards that we have received this year, I couldn’t help noticing that most of the cards that we received at the Vicarage were bought from Tesco, Sainsbury or Morrisons. Only a handful were from independent card shops.
Many years ago, we would only buy our Christmas cards from card shops especially Christian ones. I used to buy mine from the Church of Scotland bookshop in 121 George Street when I used to live in Edinburgh. However gone are those shops. I then started making my own when we lived in the highlands.
This year, I bought my cards from Mothers Union as I like my cards to have a bible verse.
Christmas is a very low key affair in our household thanks to my Protestant Christian upbringing. We even know of some Protestant Christians who do not celebrate Christmas as they see it as a pagan winter festival.
Growing up, we had presents under our Christmas tree but it was never for us or our families. It was always for the underprivileged families or children in our community. As usual, I digress…..
The Mhinisteir almost had a coronary when he heard that I wanted to get Christmas presents for our Churchwardens and parishioners.
Imagine the horror on his face when I suggested getting some of the gifts from Fortnum and Mason!!!! You see, we belong to a Multi Parish Benefice with more than 10 Churches!!! Anyway, when I put forward my proposal and the budget for it, I got the go ahead. Yay!
Most of the presents were bought online directly from Lindt chocolates. I have only just gotten round to gift wrapping the chocolate boxes this week even though the boxes arrived last week.
I enjoy gift wrapping as I find it therapeutic. As I wrapped one chocolate box after another, I got into a gentle rhythm only for it to be broken abruptly. Hang on a minute!!! Where are the chocolates??? I muttered to myself. I was holding a lovely red Lindt chocolate box but it was void of chocolates!!! What happened to those beautifully wrapped nuggets???? The box was factory sealed but there were no chocolates!!!! Strange!
I just have to assume that somebody at the Lindt factory forgot to put the chocolates in before sealing them! Thankfully I bought some extras just in case!
This week, I treated myself to a copy of the Christmas edition of the Goodhousekeeping magazine. How I have missed it!
One of the articles that stayed with me was how due to the current economic climate so many in our country are reliant on food banks.
To my shame, it is only in recent years that I have become a regular contributor to our local food bank. These days I buy our share of the food bank contribution when I do my monthly grocery shopping online. I set aside a small budget of £10 each month and buy the items that are urgently needed by the foodbanks – there is a list of urgent items required on their website.
I wanted to make sure that it costs me something so I started removing £10 worth of non essential items (like a nice box of chocolates etc) from my online shopping basket. Initially it was very difficult but now it is a lot easier even though I still feel the pinch!!!
Below is the link for the Trussell Trust who organise the foodbanks. Maybe you are already a contributor, if not I hope you will be able to play a role no matter how big or small not just this Christmas but on a regular basis.
Over the years I have accumulated several poppies pins and brooches so I am never short of them.
However this past week, I couldn’t find any of them!!!! Not even one!!! I looked at all the drawers but no not one was in sight. On Friday night I managed to find a lone poppy pin in my Jewellery box but the question still remains what happened to the rest of them????!!!!
Over the years, something has been bothering me a great deal……
Unfortunately, it came up again after my meeting with a retired clergy and his wife.
When we were in our other parish, I came across a handful of clergy including Curates who spoke about their vocation as a lucrative business. They were home owners and went into great detail to boast about the extra income they get from renting out their houses while they live in Church houses and how THIS was the main reason for them coming into the ministry! Non stipendary female clergy were often the culprits.
I feel sad and angry when I hear this because becoming a clergy is a vocation. It is unlike any other salaried job. The Mhinisteir started from zero and as we get older we realise that we do not have a house for retirement. In any case, we do not have the funds for it!!!! However, we firmly believe that God will provide for us when the time comes.
For this reason, It was a real encouragement meeting this retired Vicar and his wife. They are both young ( early retirement) and very disabled. They have gone through a lot of trials together. They too couldn’t afford to buy a retirement home. However, the Lord has graciously provided them with a roof over their head and they are very content. For all their sufferings they never complained once unlike one of the young clergy we heard of who is unhappy that they don’t get 4G where they live!!!!