Monday, 23 December 2013


Decorations in  the South Aisle were made at crafty coffee mornings.
I have stopped. This a breathing space - a reflective time before the next round of carol and crib services and the Christmas eucharist and worship services that will preoccupy the Rector@6. Blogging has had to be put to one side as I paddled hard to keep afloat.
The frantic run up to Christmas is whirling around me and I need to stop. We have a target time - 12.30 on Christmas Day - so think of us then. Then, The Rector@6 should have finished, the front door will be shut, fire lit, dogs walked (are you reading this my two lovely sons?),Christmas lunch will not be cooked but we can prepare it together - for a late afternoon meal. We will turn inwards for a short time and celebrate as a family.
This first Christmas for The Rector@6, has been a huge learning curve for both of us. The amount of  tasks that have had to be remembered - or followed up on  - or needed reminders, - seems endless. Thank God for our good health.  I have run a star making session in one church which was challenging but enjoyable. We are still struggling to keep our musicians as no one has stepped forward to lead our music group. I am struggling to keep up with producing the pew sheets that go out each week with notices, reading and service times on them - for 6 churches. I make mistakes, which bothers me but I must learn that: - 1) I will improve with practise and 2) I am only human!
What I have realised is that this is probably the hardest Christmas period that we will experience (hopefully). We have had to cope with accepting  "This is the way it is always done"  - which might not be explained to us until a little too late. Despite this, one village is trialling a worship style service with no holy communion at it (this is available half a mile down the road at two churches and all the other churches in the Benefice). People have dropped away from attending the church over the years, many were of other denominations (such as Methodist ) and they had wondered if the Christmas day Celebration could be done differently. The Rector@6 has risen to the challenge and put together a service specifically for this. We will see if they come on Christmas morning.
The contrasts in this benefice are huge. Yesterday I attended Sunday morning worship in the form of  'coffee with carols' with chequered table clothes and informal seating, in our small ancient village church and in the evening I was listening to carols in the Abbey - complete with well rehearsed choir. I sat where the monks had sat hundred of years ago and soared with the music, up to the vaulted ceilings . The Abbey is in our benefice but not part of the benifice - it is a Church of England 'perculiar' (google that - I'm not even going to attempt to explain it!). Suffice to say, next year the carol service should fall into the Rector@6's lap.
I am grateful for this time to pause. The New Year is already lining up fresh challenges but I'm not thinking about these yet. Now is the time to reflect on what Christmas really is all about.
Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel

Monday, 9 December 2013

A gentle reminder.

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.

Psalm 65:8 New International Version
I'd had enough on Sunday - another cold, empty church left me searching for some sort of faith. Yes - I had lost it and I was wondering why we were here. The rural idyll had lost its charm and I was wanting a 'get out of jail' card. I see very little of the Rector@6 on a Sunday and when he suggested that we spent Sunday evening at another church, my thoughts were very unbecoming for a Rector's wife. He had in mind to travel out of parish, some fifteen miles to a small town. Here, he wanted to become an anonymous worshipper at an evening service, at a church that was attracting some of our parishioners. I, being the dutiful rector's wife (oh yes!), agreed to go with him. I reckoned that I would, at least, get some time to talk with him in the car.

It is very strange to go to a different church now. We parked up outside and watched the people go in - teenagers (with their parents!) and old and young alike, went through the glass doors into a modern, brightly lit foyer. Nothing like our churches we said to each other. We decided to venture in and we found that we were ignored by the crowd gathered round the tea and coffee counter. We made it into the main church unaccosted. There we were surprised to find that it was a traditional church that had had a face lift. It was warm, carpeted and had chairs and not pews. Yet the structure was a traditional church. As we took it all in, the welcome commitee realised we had broken through and we were welcomed and given a  leaflet which included a sermon outline - 'transformed to be sure'.

The whole evening was centred on assurance. Were we struggling with it? ..well I was. Did I have an inconsistent Christian life? - oh yes! Was I failing to appreciate the indwelling of the Spirit?... Actually it felt more like a kick up the **** for me. It was the wake up call I needed to carry on for a bit longer.

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Rector's Christmas Present

The rector's Christmas present always causes me such a headache - but this year I think there is an obvious choice - long johns! I probably shouldn't be discussing the Rector@6's undergarments but I imagine keeping warm is a common problem for rural rectors and vicars. After three services in three churches yesterday, where the heating hardly functioned or wasn't functioning;- the Rector@6 was feeling the cold quite severely. Sometimes it can feel like the church services are being sabotaged because the heating has not been turned on ...but it is usually a genuine mistake or mal function (or so we are led to believe).

The ultimate Vicar's onesie
How can we expect to fill these beautiful churches, if it is a test of endurance to make it to the end of the service without suffering from hyperthermia or frostbite? The cost of keeping the building warm is too much for small churches that are struggling to pay their share. Should we move out and leave the building to the Historic Churches Trust? Should we just shut the doors and leave it to decay? Often there is not another public space in the village. Many of the churches are located in the centre of the village. What a statement to make - if the doors are locked and the building left empty. What a burden for the small congregations to keep them open.

So the Rector@6 struggles on and I will consider purchasing him a set of thermal long johns. Or should I modernise him and follow the fashion trend of a onesie. If you are not sure what a onesie is - it is the adult version of a babygrow - an all in one stretchy suit and they are fashionable amongst the youngsters at the moment. They come in all sorts of designs. Perhaps I could market a 'vicar's onesie'. Throw a surplice over the top and you are ready to go! Do you think they would catch on?