Sunday, 1 May 2005

… easy like Sunday morning.

It's the song that clergy hate to hear - if only it was true.
Especially when you first start, proper weekends are something that you really miss.  That Friday evening feeling when another week is over and even if there is 'homework' to be done, you know that you can relax at least until Sunday afternoon if you want to.
As a Vicar, if you're lucky and Saturday hasn't got a wedding or two, by the afternoon your mind is gearing up towards Sunday morning and preparing for what needs to be said and done.  Before having children I used to be up about 6 am on a Sunday getting my thoughts into more coherent order.  If I try to do that now, I hear the little padding of Jemima's feet after a few minutes (no matter how quietly I have come down) and then not much more can be achieved - except perhaps an adventure with the 'Bob the Builder' toys.
Saturday mornings are okay; but if you've had a busy week they are more like recovery time.  It is Sunday morning, after maybe a nice walk on a Saturday, that you should be able to hit the real relaxation zone.
My ideal would be to get up not too early but not late and then breakfast as follows:
Two traditionally smoked Manx kippers.  (If you don't mind stinking the house out for the rest of the day grill them lightly for the best flavour, otherwise simply pour boiling water over them and leave for a couple of minutes).
Two free-range eggs (preferably collected from your own hen house while still warm from the hen) fried, boiled, or poached.
A handful of mushrooms (collected from the woods the night before if you know what you're doing) fried until tender.
Arrange them all on a warmed plate along with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a pot of strong tea.  Put Classic FM on and find something good and easy to read and take it from there.
Once you have wiped the last juices from the plate with a slice of fresh wholemeal bread you’re ready for anything …
In case you haven't already heard, I will be resigning as Vicar, sometime in early September.  We are still going to be living in Worsbrough and I am enrolled to start a teacher-training course at Sheffield Hallam University.  I will be training as a Secondary Maths Teacher; Maths having been the subject I did my degree in before going on to study theology.
Despite what I've written above, it isn't just to free up weekends, though with Beccy teaching and Imogen and Jemima at school now that is quite a big factor.
I've struggled with being a Vicar even from before I was first ordained.  On the one hand I think it is that struggle that has made me effective at doing the job.  It has forced me to think things through and try and make sense of them for myself and hopefully in some way for others; it has forced me to subvert and innovate in ways that attempt to make the experience of the church less boring and more accessible, enjoyable, thought provoking and interesting.
On the other hand, having worked my ministry through as far as I feel I can at the moment, it still leaves me unsatisfied and wondering if it’s really worth all the effort I have put into it.  I think I need to step outside it and away from my struggle with it so that I can then see what I make of it from a more detached position.
All that might make it sound as though I am only going into teaching as an escape route.  But that is not true.  I could say that I felt 'called' to teaching before I was 'called' into ministry.  (The 'quote' marks show my suspicion of the idea of calling - I think actually that we must take responsibility for our own decisions about the course of our lives and if we have a vocation in any particular field it will be shown by the fruit that we bear.)  I remember a Christian Union meeting at Nottingham when someone came to talk about the need for Christians to serve God by being teachers in inner city schools.  I thought, "That's what I ought to be doing."  But I knew at that time I didn't have the maturity and inner confidence to do it.  (The pupils wouldn't have needed kippers  - they would have eaten me for breakfast!)
It will still be a big challenge but I am looking forward to it with enthusiasm and, if I can hack it, I know it will be very rewarding to play a part in that crucial stage in young lives.
I don't have any regrets at all about the course my life has taken so far - how could I?  I have gained such a lot from all my experiences and I hope I have given a lot.  I mean it sincerely when I say that it has been a huge privilege to play a part in such significant times in people's lives as are marked by baptisms, weddings and funerals as well as the ongoing relationship with the regular attenders at our services.
And there must be something very special about Worsbrough - if all these ex-Vicars decide it's still the place to live!