Thursday, 7 January 2016

Epiphany reprise

Late last night I had an email from Fr Mark to ask if I could cover the ten thirty Eucharist at St John's today, which I was able to respond to, as I was still working on my tribunal statement at the time. So, I celebrated a Prayer Book Epiphany Eucharist this morning for eight people, stopped for a cuppa afterwards and bought a jars of home made apple and black current jam and marmalade. At breakfast earlier we'd just emptied our last home made marmalade jar, and this is far more preferable than shop bought marmalade. Hopefully the Seville bitter oranges will be appearing shortly to buy and turn into this year's marmalade batch.

I had a phone call about a funeral before lunch, but the timing clashed with the usual midweek Mass celebration so I had to turn it down. The funeral arranger asked desperately if I knew any other retired cleric she could ask, as the full timers were all busy. Busy, doing midweek services, as are some of the retired clerics. Cutbacks in clergy numbers this past five years mean that there are fewer clerics to cover demands all round. So far the Church in Wales has failed to develop a programme to train lay ministers to officiate at funerals and work with the bereaved, in order to share the work load. 

What the church doesn't do is providing more work for Humanist and Pagan celebrants. The default choice of having a cleric is slowly being replaced by a menu of options, whereas at one time all but the very anti religious would settle for a parson to take the service. I believe they'd settle equally for a lay man or woman who was well trained and had more time to spend with people than clerics rushed off their feet with many duties. What's the obstacle? It could do the reputation of church ministry a lot of good to use lay officiants in this way.

Clare noticed yesterday that there were some daffodil stems with buds on, in a sheltered spot, about to burst in Pontcanna Fields when she was out for a walk. On my way to the office after lunch, I scanned the grass verge on the approaches to the bus stop, and there, where they are more exposed to cold winds, some daffodil shoots were through and already a good six inches tall, a little behind those Clare had seen. They are remarkably early, about a month early, if a remember aright. Last year I took photos of the first daffs, but am hunting to find them in my collections to check the date. It has been a very mild winter indeed, although Owain texted me from Berlin where we'd been holidaying over New Year, to say it was -10 degrees centigrade there, and they'd had snow.

I spent a couple of hours in the CBS office failing to get to grips with how to make our Sage accountancy package produce the year's first batch of invoices to order, and tweaking the terms and condition document which is issued with each annual invoice - there always seems to be something that needs to be modified slightly. Now is the best time, rather than later in the year.

Then, at tea time, I went over to the St David Centre and met with Andy and Michelle, a couple at whose wedding I will be officiating in February at St German's. We sat in Pret a Manger with a drink and I took them through the order of service and answered their initial questions. I haven't done a wedding in the UK for five years. There are similarities and differences to preparing couple for the blessing of their civil marriages, and that certainly kept me on my toes.

Before returning home I looked in John Lewis for a Chromebook and wireless printer for Amanda, but couldn't find the printer model I was after at a decent price. I need to do some shopping around.
We spent a couple of hours of evening together watching programmes about house building and restoration projects, marvelling at the stamina, determination and ability to invest large amounts of cash in customised bricks and mortar, some people are willing undertake, fulfilling their dreams the hard way, often with spectacular results. I can't imagine putting so much of my life into that kind of home making. We lived in a dozen different places and made homes therein before finally settling in this house to retire. I don't think I've yet got used to the idea of living in one place for the remainder of my life. Perhaps I shall always be a restless soul, happier borrowing a place, a sojourner in spirit. 'Here we have no abiding city, but we seek the one that is to come', says the letter to the Hebrews, but is that really true of me?


  1. When I was doing my lay reader training at the cathedral years ago, it was emphasized that apart from assisting at communion our other main job was to take services at wakes. In an aging society with not enough clergy to go around, the un-priested would have to do...

  2. In the Llantwit Major benefice quite a few funerals are taken by the Readers and have been for years.