Christmas is coming – and this year Christmas Day, when Christians celebrate God’s gift of His Son to the world, falls on a Saturday. On the Sunday, however, the mood shifts, even before we’ve had a chance to recover from all those satsumas. It’s the Feast of St Stephen.
From the Vicarage
From the vicarage
I read that in Britain, more than three million pets were bought during lockdown. It’s easy to understand why – many of us look to our pets for love and companionship. We have a family of cockatiels, who seem to find someone arriving home as exciting as anything you can imagine.
Say One For Me – it’s the sort of remark that churchgoers sometimes hear as they set off for church on a Sunday morning, usually from a neighbour who’s engaged in gardening or washing the car. It also inspired the title of a book that sits on my bookshelf about the fact that there are some people who may not choose to attend church themselves but are nevertheless glad that others do.
Doing my other job, like everything else just now, is proving tricky. I was a supply teacher working in secondary schools until a couple of years ago. Now I work with children who, for one reason or another, find school tricky, usually spending an hour or two working alongside them in their homes. That worked until the pandemic came along - home tuition and social distancing don’t really go together.
My mother had two brothers. Both served in the Forces during the war; afterwards, the family relocated from London to Ramsgate. But the younger of the two took a job at a hotel in the Lake District, met and married my aunt, and settled at the opposite end of England to the rest of the family.
Yes, it’s true! Since last month, Yours Truly has been a victim of crime!
For the first time ever, the plum tree in the Vicarage garden had surprised us by producing a decent amount of fruit. We returned home one afternoon to find it stripped - not a single plum left, nothing even lying on the grass. Admittedly, it was hardly the Crime of the Century - people suffer far worse, as indeed we have ourselves in the past - but there was still the sense of disbelief, violation, sadness and uneasiness at the thought of someone having been there uninvited.
Churches can reopen; so there I was, kneeling on the floor. Training for ministry never covered this, I told myself. Not that I needed training to use a tape measure to lay strips of masking tape on the floor of a church 2 metres apart.
Being there on my hands and knees brought back a memory from my student days in South London, where I first became involved with the Church. The then Bishop of Southwark lived in the parish and would sometimes invite himself to take part in services at the church where I had become an altar server.
I must admit that I do enjoy visiting cathedrals – especially ones that I don’t know very well. Visiting Gloucester not long after Christmas, I took the opportunity to have a proper look around the Cathedral.