This is one of those 'funny' comments that grace my life every so often and I guess that, not being in any way unique (whilst being unique in every way!), others in the clergy are blessed with the same comments too!
It's an odd thing but when this particular cleric steps into the dressing up shop and become 'Rev Ben' rather than 'Mr Ben'. Of course I'm assuming you know who Mr Ben is - in case you don't, let me set you straight. Mr Ben was a great cartoon character from the seventies who would visit a 'dressing up' shop where he would 'dress up' and have great adventures - these days I have come to realise that it called 'ordination'!
Today has been pretty much extraordinary in the way that it has been so amazingly ordinary and yet, as is almost always the case, so extremely special.
By the close of play today this day will have seen me engaged in:
+ a communion service where we ran out of seats and just kept adding them.
+ an opportunity to meet with lots of really lovely people and just enjoying spending time with them listening to their stories, laughing at their jokes and getting involved with them and being 'real'.
+ taking communion out to people who are no longer able to come in to the church building and be 'Church' - so 'Church' comes to them and the relationship with Jesus, the Christ, the lone(ly) Christian and the Lord (through the Eucharist) is once again celebrated and made incarnate!
+ helping people make sense of the loss of a loved one and help them to plan one last opportunity for them and their loved one to physically be in the same place.
+ being the voice of reason and reconciliation as broken people, and relationship, are brought back into one and healing, forgiveness and love gently collide.
+ being the Christian presence as members of a uniformed youth organisation parade and spend time together as cadets.
+ planning the funeral of a young person whose loss is painful and unfair for all who are involved and confusing for those who assumed that 'three score and ten' were the norm'. Death of a young person, especially when this natural act is down to natural causes, brings a sadness all of its own and raises many questions where God, and the person representing Him, need to 'man up' and take the questions on the chin without evasion or flinching.
Add to this the usual round of emails, telephone calls and the like and you get to realise that what your average Vicar does requires anything but an average response. Mix in a little paperwork (and there's always paperwork to be done) and the picture is complete.
So a request for those who have a Vicar, Pastor, Leader, Whateveryoucallthem, in your expression of Church.
Please pray for those who are engaged in the pastoral role that they will:
i. Never lose sight of the high calling that they have to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and minister His love to all that they meet; Christian, theist and atheist.
ii. Never see those they engage with as anything other than the image of the invisible God made visible and, with that in mind, give them the time, love and respect that this deserves.
iii. Remember that the role is done WITH God as partners and friends rather than work colleagues or employee and Employer. We live with God first and foremost as brothers and sisters rather than mere co-workers; a reality that is borne of relationship and sacrifice on God's part.
iv. Never forget that there are others within their own family who have a right, and a call, upon their time and that balance is always the key (especially when unbalance is the reality).