Well, a third of a day off anyway!
Before the world starts the, "You have to take your day off," tirade, I had to square away some of the funerals in terms of getting the CDs burnt, the service paperwork done, a regimental flag found (ended up buying one from ebay), and other arrangements made. The next seven days have as many funerals (and there's none on the weekend) so it's a bit of a marathon. In fact with nineteen, which was not only the average age of the US soldier in Vietnam, is now but the high water mark of my monthly funeral service tally. A new record - can't be bad can it?
The day started with the usual daily Office (usually done between 04:30 and 06:00 depending on what's ahead - the busier I am, the earlier it gets done) and soon found itself taken up by funeral stuff. By 07:30 I'd had a brew and was well into the first set of stuff.
It's odd but I have come to realise that the world at large assumes that service just happen. If only this were true, but the reality is that to get liturgy and content in the right place, to do the right stuff about people, get names right, make sure the tensions in the service (any service, every service) are created and resolved: This takes work. Thankfully there are colleagues who work at providing quite poor liturgy as a spur for me to keep in working at it!
So notes written up, myriad numbers of telephone calls made (seems I spoke to one FD nine times during the course of the morning), service and other related sheets put together, printed and put in their relevant envelopes - I found myself done such that lunch and a film became ours a little before half one. A great day thus far, and for that, time with the other half was my reward and joy for the second part of the day.
We went to the wrinkly film club. It so unlike my earlieat film club experiences where I'd buy a ticket (3p) and head to the toilet to let my mates in through the fire exit before we sang the rousing 'We are the boys and girls well known as, the minors of the ABC . . . '.
Today's extravaganza coat £3 and came with a brew (Tea, the nectar of the gods - unless it's the stuff most churches dish up after the service). The film was 'I, Daniel Blake' and it didn't take long to see why they'd checked for concealed weapons before we entered, after all the Job Centre is only across the road from the cinema! This is a must see for people and I think it's a film we need to show to Church sometime. The film is about a man and his dealings with the benefits and employment related processes in the U.K. It made me angry, reduced me to tears and brought back so many memories of when I worked in that sector. Church was seen in it as perhaps one of the only true moments of hope.
Film finished, we left ready to have a fight - the adrenaline was flowing - with the shops as I purchased more comestibles to feed my heavy administrative appetite before heading home. Got home and then (without a brew) went and did a food shop and saw no one I knew; which is so very odd it made me stop and think for a moment. A trip out without encountering a single soul:; had the apocalypse begun?
Home again (without any sense of a bit of 'jiddedy jig' or a fat pig in eveidence) a bit more funeral admin before an episode of 'The Undertaker' (I kid you not) - my TV of choice at the moment and then a snuggle in the settee with a good wife (left the book elsewhere) and a chick flick on Netflix. Bliss.
Early to bed tonight (before midnight) and now all is quiet in the house and the breathing next to me is regular as a little hushed it's time to reflect on where me and God have been today. It's now that I realise how many opportunities for engagement I've had today thanks to the telephone - something we clergy (and the world) seem to have forgotten as we text and email our way through the day.
Lord, for the opportunities to enter the homes of others through a bit of copper I can but thank You. For the difference a call has made - the making of a virtual incarnacy theirs - I give You praise. Not as good as a simple touch and a real presence, but today I will give You thanks because as I was in one place, You, and another person were standing with me in the work of being Church as they visited someone in hospital.
Lord, help me to raise up born again believers who give without counting the cost. Help me to walk I Your footsteps and experience the security and life-changing reality that this brings and may others walk in those footsteps behind me - for aren't we called 'leaders' as well as followers.
Father for the daily bread, the forgiveness of my sins, the fact that today I do not think I have out You to the test but walked as friends in partnership as family: I love You so very much. Bless all I am and do tomorrow - may my encounters speak of You and my life show Your love and the work of Your hand.
Let's do this again tomorrow, eh?