A Vicar's Life

Lying half awake in the middle of the night, mind turning over and over, I suddenly remembered it was time to start writing the Spring edition of ‘Reaching Out’; what to write? What about ‘ A Vicar’s life’, after all if it’s interesting enough for a recent series on BBC2 surely I can manage something for a ’Reaching Out’ article? By now wide awake, I looked back on the events of the past day!

It had been an early start, ready for a builder coming to repair a fence, tea for him and very strong coffee for me, then Morning Prayer to be said! A quick call to an undertaker to sort some music for a funeral then off to church to say Mass. Then a quick dash to the local Infant School for assembly, stopping en route at the Vicarage for breakfast, a banana, no time for my usual bowl of fruit and yoghurt! Assembly over back to the Church Hall to call the Bingo and some friendly banter with the ladies at our fortnightly Coffee Morning. Job done a quick chat follows with one of the Churchwardens about church finance then back to the study to carry on with some sermon preparation for Lent. A couple of phone calls, one a funeral director the other someone to arrange a christening, ‘You christened me Fr Keith, can you christen my two ?’ Talk about make you feel old, but somehow a warm sense of satisfaction – relationships and connections mean a lot in this job! Taking a break from sermon writing I decide there’s just time to endorse a couple of passport applications before having some lunch! A light lunch follows, a salad (has to be done) and then a bit of a rest; this Vicar is getting on a bit! Dip into a novel and doze off! Rest completed, have two families come to see me about the funerals of their nearest and dearest; orders of service to prepare yes, but also an opportunity to get close to people at a time when they need support, both families know me and so its more like a meeting of friends rather than a work task! Pastoral work done, its over to church for Rosary Prayers, a time for some serious chat with Jesus and his mother, Mary. Back indoors time to prepare for a meeting tomorrow at the Cathedral to go through the arrangements for a big service in March– it means attempting to look at several files on someone else’s USB (what’s that!) and make some sense of it all – never too old to learn! I’ve even managed to use a scanner in the past few months, a remarkable achievement for someone as technophobic as me! Now time to flop down on the sofa with a glass of red wine, and watch Channel 4 News, no newspaper today, while waiting for my dinner to cook– a partridge, the gift of a friend who goes beating and plucked by the Vicar himself, with rubber gloves of course! Then an episode of ’A Vicar’s life’ on ‘catch up’, before watching my favourite hospital soap Holby! Just an average day really– more like Channel 4’s ‘Rev’ than the life of any Saint, and never a dull moment, you never know what the next day will bring, and that’s the great joy of being a priest!

Going back to ‘A Vicar’s life’ on TV, what has struck me has been the tremendous enthusiasm of the cassock wearing Fr Matthew– oh to be young again– here is a young priest with a mission, nothing short of converting the whole world! We have seen him helping a homeless woman get back on her feet, and seeing the job through until her life is stable once more; we have also seen him taking Harvest gifts to a migrant camp near Calais and joining the helpers to prepare meals and we have seen him back home preparing for the Harvest Festival and Harvest lunch, charming the church ladies with his humour and his vulnerability - they all want to mother him no doubt! Like all priests with a sense of vocation Fr Matthew reveals his burning desire, which I am sure is Heaven sent, where like other priests, he wants to and believes he can change the whole world! Let’s hope he is not made cynical by the world that greets him, and his enthusiasm remains undimmed! Delivering vegetables to refugees outside Calais, Fr Matthew chops leeks and prays with some of the refugees, ’I don’t do political conversations, I don’t know what we should or shouldn’t do, but for me small acts of good, everybody’s small acts of good… that’s what ultimately changes the world!’ Sounds a bit like that chap who lived some 2,000 years ago who just went about in Galilee doing those small acts to make the world a better place, ultimately giving his own life for what he believed in and whose Easter tells us there’s a bigger story going on!

your friend and priest,

Father Keith