In the Church of England, after all the demands of Christmas, clergy are expected to take a week off work immediately after Christmas in order to rest and recuperate.
In our case, superman the Mhinisteir decided to take his holidays at a later date in order to allow the assistant curate to go away on their post Christmas break. I have often wondered why the assistant curate always gets the first choice when it comes to holidays🤐!
Anyway, the good news is as of today we are officially on our post Christmas break. Later this morning, we are leaving for our usual hideout and hope to be away for a few days.
I have yet to decide if I am going to continue blogging during this period but if there is a lapse you will know why!
Today is the 4th day without heating since the vicarage boiler broke down on Thursday.
It has been a massive inconvenience but we are not miserable. It is amazing how the breakdown of something like the boiler can upset our routine. I thought it was just me who feels this way but the Mhinisteir is struggling too.
We were given 4 foot heaters by the heating company for which we are thankful but it is not the same and we are still cold. I have been spending most of my time in bed with the electric blanket turned on! I am only in my study to write this blog, after that I am going back to the comfort of my bed.
Thankfully, we have got hot water which means we can have our shower and do the washing up but we almost went without it as the engineer who was sent to us was new and so was not familiar with the way our heating system works.
Rural churches have very little or no heating so it was mighty cold in both churches yesterday. On top of that, the windows and doors were kept open in compliance with Covid19 guidelines. When we came back, we were even more cold!!!! 🥶🥶🥶🥶
As always our kind parishioners have been offering us their portable heaters but I think we are quite alright for now but we can’t wait for the heating to be restored.
Do people even deadhead in December? Well, that is what I found myself doing last week.
The month of December sees a lot of footfall to the Vicarage; just very kind parishioners dropping off Christmas cards and presents. For this reason, I was very conscious of our front garden looking very grubby. The Vicarage gardener has gone AWOL again!
I decided to take matters into my own hands and started deadheading and trimming the overgrown hydrangea bush. The large flower heads were drooping and were such an eyesore!
I quite like the winter when everything is bleak. I love looking at the bare trees that have been stripped of their leaves. However, this winter, everything around me looks grubby . Take our hydrangea bush for example; by this time of the year, it will be completely bare but this year half the leaves are still intact. Wait for this… there are even green buds appearing on its branches. I have never seen anything like this before! The same is repeated everywhere else in the Vicarage garden. Not one tree has been stripped bare. It feels like as if someone has not done their job properly😁😁.
At Christmas, we mark the birth of Christ. Increasingly, I am beginning to wonder if in the Church of England, we have started to re-enact the birth of Christ?
The Mhinisteir is coming under pressure to cancel the Sunday services on boxing day. The reason given is people will be tired after Christmas! I am gobsmacked!
I am appalled that some churches are doing away with their Sunday services on boxing day this year. Sadly, they have bought into the Christmas frenzy and have started re-enacting the birth of Christ.
According to Canons of the Church of England, there is to be at least one holy communion service in a parish church on a Sunday unless you have special permission like during the time of the first lockdown.
God willing, I plan to go to the service on Christmas day to mark the birth of Christ and I will go to the Sunday service the next day because it is required of me to keep the sabbath day holy.
On Sunday in Church, one of the hymns that we sang was On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist cry; unfortunately for me, during the singing my mind wondered to a certain scene in Yes, Prime Minister!! In that particular episode, a former prime minister suddenly dies of a heart attack and a state funeral had to be organised.
In that scene, a Jordanian official in his national attire approaches Sir Humphrey Appleby who was the Prime Minister’s cabinet secretary. The following conversation ensued:
Jordanian official: Sir Humphrey, I have just seen this order of service for tomorrow. This hymn. It is deeply embarrassing.
Sir Humphrey: “On Jordan’s Bank, The Baptist’s Cry”? Why?
Jordanian official: Did you not know that the Jordan Bank went bust yesterday?
At the recent General Synod, the Archbishop of York (ABY) was quoted as saying:
“We have a lot of labourers in the Church of England. The trouble is that the labourers are in the barn arguing what colour to paint the combine harvester. Like two bald men fighting over a comb“
In the Gospel of St Matthew, the Lord Jesus says that the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. I know who I believe because if the ABY is correct, there will be no need for multi parish benefices where a single parish priest is usually in charge of 3 or more parish churches!!!!
At the eleventh hour, the senior cleric had a sudden change of heart and so the showdown didn’t happen after all. I can’t say I am disappointed because the meeting could have become confrontational as the senior cleric had omitted some very key steps like safety and security when preparing for this meeting.
Anyway, the senior cleric was meant to have contacted the Mhinisteir to discuss further but not a peep! Understandably, the Mhinisteir is slightly disappointed to be kept in the dark but there is nothing he can do about it.
I think I have waited way too long to share this happy news; I had absolutely no reason to wait until the last month of the year!!!!
Sometime this year, the Mhinisteir was made an honorary Canon of the Cathedral. For the uninitiated, A canon is a member of the chapter which is headed by the dean of the cathedral. Together with the dean, the chapter have legal responsibility for the cathedral and for electing the bishop.
I still remember the day so clearly when the Bishop rang the Vicarage. Before he broke the news, the Bishop had asked the Mhinisteir if he was sitting down 😁
The collation service was a beautiful one and was well attended.
The Mhinisteir has since told me at least once as to what an honour this is; that unlike peerages, these titles cannot be bought!
I have reminded the Mhinisteir that although I have the utmost respect for clergy and their office, he still has to unload the dishwasher at home! 🤣
Being in a multi parish benefice means that we have an army of church wardens! One of the things that I have observed is that Church wardens become too controlling and defensive of their position; they find it very difficult to involve others in the work of the church. Basically they want to do everything! Sadly they have all become a bit too long in the tooth and are no longer able to serve effectively. I find it all very comical because in a multi parish like ours we have very gifted people. They can very easily do tasks that does not require the churchwardens input.
Furthermore, there are others in the congregation who are ready to become church wardens. The pandemic has meant that there are newly retired people who have moved to our villages and are wanting to be more involved in the churches but in order for that to happen the current church wardens need to give way!!!!
There was an article in last week’s Church Times about a £4.8 million Innovation Fund that has been launched by the Archbishops’ Council.
As I read the article, I quickly realised that rural churches will never be able to qualify for one because the projects must support the official Vision and Strategy for the 2020s; the priority of becoming a Church which is younger and more diverse.
In rural parishes like ours, We do not have young families moving into our villages. The problem is so acute that one of our village primary schools has already closed down.
As for diversity, rural areas tend to be quite traditional which is why the parish churches tend to be more middle of the road CofE than very high or very low.
What rural churches really need is priests of good calibre but sadly the Church of England is unwilling to fund that and prefers to waste her money away.