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Archive for March, 2011

As Formfiller-In-Chief in the Vicarage, the lovely census form falls to me. Actually, we have two of them, as the database people think that The Vicarage at House Number, Street Name is a different dwelling to House Number, Street Name. Anyway, I will be communing with the forms over the weekend and battling with the usual question:

What exactly does your husband DO?

Before I get to the that, there’s the question of the Vicarage itself. I’m not sure whether our landlord is the Vicar’s employer or not, as he’s not officially ’employed’ – he’s an ‘office holder’ and the house is part of his ‘freehold’.

And then, of course, there is the employment question. The Vicar is not really an employee (although the diocese handle his stipend and he answers to the bishop), nor self-employed (though many of the ways that HMRC look at him are similar). I think he may be ‘doing any other kind of paid work’. The folk over at Thinking Anglicans are also wrestling with this and are suggesting ticking all the boxes in the first employment question (26) – although I think that option is really for people who have more than one job.

Alas, you do not have that choice for Question 33 and you must choose between being an employee and being self-employed. What will you all be choosing? And there is also the challenge of describing what you do in your main job. Pastor-teacher? Cure of souls? Ministry? Preaching the word and administering the sacraments?

I’m also looking forward to answering Q37: At your workplace, what is the main activity of your employer? If we go with the thought that the Vicar is employed by the Lord, I could have some fun with this: Running the universe. Upholding all things by His powerful word. For example.

Looking forward to hearing your suggestions. And it’s meant to be completed by Sunday…

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Despite my desire to become Alys Fowler (including the Pre-Raphaelite hair), things in the Vicarage garden didn’t go brilliantly last summer. I planted out, but didn’t really give things the attention they needed. I was too busy fire-fighting the clutter in the house.

But this year I’m hoping for more success. I now have a cleaner, who comes every couple of weeks to help me to conquer the house. I have a schedule, which means I am strangely (to me) doing a little more housework than I used to. So there may now be some time to water and weed.

And to start us off, last week we had the gardening team from Betel in to clear the beds and get us on the road to a manageable and (hopefully) edible garden this year. The team comprised four men – one was Gav Burnage, Associate minister from Aldridge Parish Church, who is living and working full time at Betel. The other guys were members of the Betel community in Birmingham, learning to live and work free from substance abuse.

God was kind to us, and the sun shone. The Vicar and Rocky joined the Betel team. I skived off the digging, but supplied regular tea and cake. They sorted out our main beds, nuked some brambles and the evil blue weeds and left everything looking tidy and ready for planting. Now we just have to keep up the weed-free look with regular forays in our wellies. The money we paid for the work helps to pay for Betel’s accommodation and keeps this amazing organisation going. If you live in the Birmingham area and need a garden blitz, why not see if they can help you out?

 

The Vicar with the Betel team. Note the tidy flower bed (and still-absent coping stones).

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So I’m back from the PT Ministers Wives Conference. I arrived home on Thursday afternoon last week full of beans. This year the conference was rather less densely packed with sessions than previously, so I felt I’d had lots of time to digest the excellent bible teaching (of which more in another post later).

A key phrase came home with me – from a seminar I attended on ‘Bridging the Gospel Gap – Applying the Gospel to ourselves and others’. That phrase was ‘Who is the LORD (in this situation)?’ In the seminar we thought through a fairly trivial example – how we would react when stuck in traffic on the way to get test results from the doctor’s, considering how our reactions under stress indicate who or what is most important in our lives.

I’m so pleased I’d learnt that, as I came home to a couple of tough situations,  both personally and in the parish. I am so grateful to have been prepared by God to remember that He is sovereign in everything. My small challenges are nothing, of course, to those faced by many, and this week the situation in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami puts my life’s gentle meander into perspective. But the truth that God is the LORD in everything helps me to trust him in my minor situations and not be ruled by them. And that truth helps me to pray for Japan and the people there as they mourn and as they search for meaning in the chaos.

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I’m off again today on the Proclamation Trust’s wonderful Minister’s Wives’ Conference. I’m looking forward to being refreshed by teaching from Lizzie Smallwood and Vaughan Roberts, chatting to friends from dawn until dusk and being encouraged by hearing what God is doing in many different places.

It’s hard to believe that it’s a year since I was last at Hothorpe Hall. We have been living in our Vicarage for two years now. We moved in during February half term and the Vicar was inducted on 10th March.

There seems to be a pattern in moving to a new parish: a while ago I blogged about the ‘I hate foreign’ part that happens early on. But a lot of clergy say that the second and third years can be tough – when you start changing things more and your weaknesses become more exposed.  It’s when you begin to really know your congregation and your parish and they you. I think we’ve found that true – last summer felt like quite hard going. But now we are very encouraged by signs of growth.

And only yesterday the Vicar launched a big new initiative: we are aiming to increase the number of small groups. We’ve even had fabulous banners printed up. Designed by a Vicar’s wife, natch.

Does your church have small groups? How are they getting on? Any wisdom could come in very handy…

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Just saw these wonderful video clips from 66 Clouds. They show wordles – word frequency pictures – of every book in the Bible and another of the whole Bible. Fantastic! They also do posters, but the cost of shipping to the UK might be prohibitive – maybe worth enquiring though, eh?

First the whole bible:

And here are all the books in order:

[HT: Dan Green]

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