on the rights and wrongs of busy priests

There’s a trend for clergy to decry busyness and I get it. Being busy has become a badge of honour, especially among the middle classes. For some reason, lots of people also want their priest to be busy and they naturally assume that you are, so you go along with it, because it makes you…

staying in the flow

Someone wise said something to me recently that has helped me navigate the sometimes mundane and irritatingly recurrent problems of semi rural – indeed most types of – church life (keys, parking, invoices, emails, damp, heating, grass mowing). It acknowledged that these daily annoyances are never far from the real life of a minister but…

staring down the blank, and finding blessing

Some days it can feel like a brick wall. Life can be utterly obdurate, like an unwilling child dragging their heels along the supermarket aisle, giving you hell in public. We pray to be saved from ordeals, but they mostly come anyway. Thankfully God knows we ‘are but dust’. How true, despite advertising giving us…

family matters

The best quote of the morning goes to a small child in family worship today, in whose mind something had triggered a feeling of belonging. Who, amid scissors, paper and general messiness between the choir pews (no, we have no tables, chairs, separate Sunday School room, only lovely mess on the floor), announced to all…

hidden agenda

Your parish priest has a hidden agenda, and I’m about to reveal what it is. You know that seemingly innocent coffee you were having with your caring minister? The one you offered when your vicar said ‘I haven’t seen you for a while – shall we have a coffee?’ and you replied ‘yes, that’d be…

when imagination helps and hinders

Being a minister is a double edged sword. I went into this ministerial life with sky high hopes and the ability to dream. I’m good at imagining wonder and magic, even when everything around me looks, smells and sounds unimaginably dreary. I imagine all the people who’ve ever connected with the church in this place…

meditation and beyond

I’m still meditating. I don’t know if I’m getting anywhere, but I do feel a certain calm, and at least now it’s habitual. My favourite meditation time of day at present is midwinter sunset, around 4pm. It’s that pivotal time between early afternoon, when there was still time to ‘do ministry’ (a pastoral visit or…

have an adequate Christmas

An interesting phenomenon happens around two days before Christmas. It may have been happening even before that – the vague feeling that you haven’t got enough… Not enough food in the house: this rises to ridiculous siege mentality proportions on Christmas Eve – when you dash out to stock up on vegetables enough to feed…