These are the four topics that have greeted me thus far today as I braved the sunlight and ventured out of the Vicar's palace. Amazing how people assume that I have a view on things but wonderful that they feel they can engage me and I love being treated like one of their friends - so all in all, a blessing indeed!
Wimbledon - apparently 'We' won Wimbledon yesterday - something which might well account for the tiredness and aching arms and legs I have this morning thought it was the heat and late night boat building). What was strange was that I saw a closely fought, combative encounter played in the testing heat of Centre Court. The man I was talking to saw a 'walk over'. It seems that even the nature of victory is in the eye of the beholder!
'Lady' Bishops - and apparently, 'It's 'about time' we let the 'girls' have a go. I mean to say, look at that Vicar of Dibley, she's a bit of alright and ...' (I won't expand on the next bit other than to say the bloke obviously fancies Dawn French). As I probed deeper it seems that the couple I was engaged with both thought it was only right to have lady bishops because, after all,'That Margaret Thatcher was a lady and although we don't like her - it's only fair isn't it?' What was interesting was that neither had ever met a female cleric and the wife mentioned that she wasn't too sure she would want one herself.
I tried to bring this around to calling and how Jesus changed the culture such that those who were once 'non persona' were given the ability to not only exist as individuals, but we set free from their oppression and bondage. Sadly, think the ball was sadly called long!
And so I popped into the church building and collected a few things and as I left the building I found myself greeted by a member of a local church (on the way to the Doctor's) who raised the issue of child sexual abuse and the clergy (which had obviously been on one of the radio stations) and the fact that 'saying sorry' wasn't enough. 'The Church needs to get its house in order and it needs to return to 'proper' values,' said they. The quoted some regional bad guy who fled the country and died abroad and having made mention of them continued by telling me what should be done to those '**!!**' (an expression that was met by an, 'If you'll excuse my French, Vicar!').
I pointed out the need for vigilance and care in the area of children and vulnerable adults and tried to lead this, again unsuccessfully, onto the issue of DBS checks (the checks formerly known as CRB) and the excellent safeguarding practice that many denominations (including of course the CofE) employed ... but this wasn't what they wanted. The topic was one that called for strong action and swift justice (which I think might be the justice formerly known as 'vigilante').
Having made his point he left because he was (looking at his watch) apparently 'running a bit late'!
As I turned to head back up the grand drive to the palace one of the Mums who was trying hard to cope with two screaming children in the buggy and two more who were obviously more keen to be anywhere than school passed with the words, 'Bugger this weather Vicar, makes everyone miserable doesn't it?'
'Perhaps - but not me,' I thought as another week in the Estate Church Paradise that I inhabit got under way.
Have I told you lately just how much I love my ministry?