One of the things I love about Vicarage life is its unpredictability. Most of the time this is great fun – I love my morning to be interrupted by someone wanting to chat at the kitchen table, especially when there is housework to be done. But I have to confess that I find it a bit of a challenge when our Sunday evening is disturbed.
Sundays are obviously a busy day for us – the Vicar almost always preaches at all three services in our church and is often leading at a couple of them. We often have church family members over for lunch aswell, and sometimes an afternoon group for baptism preparation or something like that. So when we get to 8pm(ish) and the evening service is finished, the church locked up and the Vicar and Rocky returned to the Vicarage and the children all put to bed (though sadly not necessarily asleep now they’re a bit older) we like to be able to chat a bit, pray a bit, watch some undemanding telly, eat cheese and biscuits and drink a glass of red wine.
But this week our usual routine was upset by a waif and stray with a bizarre story. Waif had come to the Vicarage at about 4pm wanting to speak to the Vicar. As our lunch guests were still here, the Vicar told him to come along to the evening service so they could chat then. And then after the service, Waif’s tale of woe came out. It involved ferries from Ireland, cash paid for tickets to the Man U-Barcelona Champions League final, B&Bs in random locations and strange train jouneys, culminating in Waif being in our parish on a Sunday evening with no money, no phone, no means of identification and needing a bed for the night.
His tale was so unbelievable, it might possibly have been true, but the main fact was that he needed somewhere to stay and was asking for our help. I supplied the regulation cheese rolls and then we talked about accommodation. Although we have space here, accommodating complete strangers does not seem to be a wise undertaking. There is no homeless hostel in our town and not much of a chance of space being available in the Sally Army hostel in Birmingham. So in the end, the Vicar’s discretionary fund came into action. The Vicar drove him to a nearby pub with rooms, where he obtained B&B for Waif for a bargain £25.
And that was it. The Vicar returned to the Vicarage at 10pm and we ate late, went to bed late, and struggled to get started on Monday morning. All part of this strange and unpredictable life we have been called to, where the limits of our hospitality are regularly stretched. I think the Lord knew I needed a bit of a break after that though – on Monday morning we had two callers who sat drinking coffee with me so I could skive off the housework.