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Posts Tagged ‘Vicarage’

Tonight we made a rainbow for our rainbow shaped window. This Holy Week is the week we especially remember the hope that we have. We are joining with EasterMeansHope.com to share the hope of Christ with our neighbours.

Paper rainbow and 'EasterMeansHope.com' in arched window

We had the window ready for this evening’s #ClapforOurCarers, and the Joker joined in with extra noise tonight – a rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow on his trombone.

The Joker, wearing black t-shirt and beige shorts, flipflops, plays his trombone outside the Vicarage, using a black music stand.

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There’s something very beautiful about studying this passage in a small group with people with Punjabi, Irish, Iranian, Scots and English heritage, all together. And reading it aloud in English and Farsi.

We are blessed in Christ – in forgiveness and in the promise of eternal life. And we are blessed in the families of the earth coming together in the red room in the Vicarage – marvelling that those promises to Abram are fulfilled in us today, so far distant in time and place.

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Storm Dennis decided that the Vicarage needed a bit of break. So our phone line stopped working two weeks ago. The winds had whipped around the Vicarage and dislodged the wire precariously attached to the side of the house as it makes its way into our junction box and wifi hub.

The phone fixer chap arrived this evening and made some interesting observations:

  1. We had two defunct cables hanging off the house.
  2. The current cable had frayed as it swayed in the wind – which is why we had occasional wifi but no phone.
  3. The wires to the house have been there for about 40 years.
  4. The wire inside the junction box was of a type made during the First World War – the insulation is a giveaway apparently.

The information about the wire reminded me of a snippet I read just the other week in a bound collection of church magazines I found in the churchwardens’ vestry. These magazines were published in 1925, and so I can tell you that the first phone line was installed in our house in October 1925. Don’t forget our number: West Bromwich 172. Sadly, our telephone number, unlike the wiring, has no continuity with the original. And I doubt the Church of England will give you advice if you’re moving overseas either. And alas, we have no choir, for ladies or anybody else, but any offers of help in the matter of church music would still be most welcome.

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We’ve been here in our parish for eleven years now – we moved in February half term in 2009. Almost since the beginning I have hosted a weekly coffee morning for people from the church and the community – including school gate mums, bringing baking from the Vicarage kitchen. We call it Cake and Chat, which captures the essence I feel.

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Pistachio and citrus peel cookies and blondies were on offer this week

The group who meets includes those who’ve been coming for eleven years and others who’ve joined us in the last few months. We moved last year from meeting in the hall  which is tucked away from the road and has an echoey floor. Now we gather in the church itself, where we now have some café seating and can have the main doors open.

Over the last few weeks we’ve discussed what we’d do with a lottery win and the allure of gambling machines, we’ve chatted about the local lads who race their cars up the dual carriageway on Sunday nights, we’ve wrestled with Bible verses and with questions of identity and relationships. Our group includes Christians and Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs and people of no faith at all. Mostly we speak English but other times you can hear Polish, Punjabi and Patois. We begin around 8.30am and can still be chatting at noon. Some of my most precious times in parish life has been spent with this group.

The God of the Bible is the God who speaks, who breathes everything into being through his Word of life. Is it any surprise that chatting brings such joy and delight? Speaking makes things – it can make relationships. As we seek to build relationships of love in our community, time taken to chat (especially when there’s cake aswell) is never time wasted.

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So today we launch into Lent. I already have a couple of disciplines on the go this year – Doing the Next Thing and the February declutter (just about up to date, I’m pleased to say, mainly children’s books that my kids have now grown out of).

So my main focus this Lent is going to be something partly inspired by the 40acts initiative – we have the family wallchart up in the kitchen. And it’s partly inspired by the door to door visiting that Dreamer and I did in the new estate in the parish. Before Christmas, we went to every house with a paper lunch bag containing a home made Christmas decoration, a bag of chocolate coins, details about regular church activities and invitations to our Christmas events. People were surprised and pleased to be given something with no strings attached. We called them Bags of Blessing.

So this Lent my plan is to take 40 Bags of Blessing round to people in the parish – houses and shops and other places. I began today with a family who live opposite us. I often talk to the mum and admire her as she shepherds four lively boys down to the school gate every day. So today I knocked on her door and handed over the bag, which was almost immediately ripped open by the 3 year old, who identified it as containing goodies. Tomorrow I’m going to visit the pharmacy on the High Street with a bag. I’m enjoying planning who I could visit. The next few will contain a few sweeties, a bargain Lidl daffodil plant, a homemade heart decoration and few leaflets about church activities that might be useful. I’m going to adapt them as Lent progresses and depending on who I’m visiting.

What are you up to for Lent?

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Wednesday was quite a cluttered day here in the Vicarage. Jolly left for a new safe home, and the Vicar spent the morning with him, the Hope for Justice team, and CID. As you do. Meanwhile, I was with the team running our monthly soup lunch. For a chilly February day we served Melrose lentil soup and an approximation of Spiced Root Soup. There were also whole orange cakes for afters. And then our dear friend Song came to spend her day off with us and so Wednesday disappeared with rather a lack of attention to the mess.

Pleasingly, today’s rummage in the boys’ bedroom meant I could knock out 3+4 items easily. Look! Lots of picture books that haven’t been read for quite some time. And I’m not even going to hold some of them back for later in the month – I’ve barely started with the book shelves in there.

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Today has been pretty busy in the Vicarage. The Vicar spent most of the day helping Jolly, who’s been staying in our shed. He’s been at the police station about it and has met the team from Hope For Justice, who have been brilliant. With their help, we expect Jolly’s story to improve immensely from now on. He ate supper with us this evening and he told us some of his story, which has had some amazing twists and turns along the way. We are glad to have been a part of it.

I’ve been cooking for our community soup lunch tomorrow. But I’m not sure that the mountains of vegetable peelings properly count as decluttered objects, alas. But when I was in the bathroom this morning I realised that a couple of bath lilies were really quite scraggy. So they’ve gone out. And I’m going to chuck some more bathroom debris as I go to bed tonight. I need to get some control over that collection of almost empty shampoo bottles…

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