16th August – having finished my ‘typical’ day last week, I realised that I said nothing about saying Evening Prayer. This I normally say at about 5.00 – 5.30, and it takes about half an hour. Sometimes it is earlier and sometimes later. Very occasionally I don’t manage to say it at all, and sometimes only a quick version. I stopped worrying some years ago after a read an autobiography by a former Bishop of Bath and Wells, Bp John Bickersteth, Run of the Mill Bishop, when he said that because of all his appointments he had to stop worrying about it. There are two other Prayer services – Prayer during the Day, which I never manage to say by myself but which I sometimes use when praying with other clergy, and also Night Prayer or Compline. I used to say this just before I put the light out, but found it was a real effort to finish before I fell asleep, and so wasn’t saying it properly. These days I read something which will not keep me awake – always something theological. I often read up to four theological books at a time – something at the end of morning and evening prayer, two early evening books and one late at night book. But at the moment I am only reading two books. Firstly, Unlocking the Bible by David Pawson. I bought this years ago, and dipped into it, but over the past several months have been reading it alongside my Bible reading at Morning and Evening Prayer. I have to say that I do not always agree with him at all, but sometimes what he says is really helpful. But you have to know which things you might agree with or not! Then I am also reading Diarmaid McCullough’s Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490 – 1700. He is a brilliant author and I have read quite a few other of his books. This one was published some years ago and I missed it at the time. It’s over 700 pages so will take me a couple of months. In case you think I read nothing but theological books, I am a great reader of both children’s books, and also murders. And it is murders I am reading at the moment. I am enjoying the Miss Silver books by Patricia Wentworth. Next week, I am on holiday so there will be no vicar’s blog.
9th August – To carry on with the ‘typical’ day. I am normally at my desk between 7.00 and 7.30 am. First of all, I check emails. Most of you will know that I also run a business (Girls Gone By Publishers and Friends of the Chalet School) – technically I am a ‘half-time’ vicar – and it is usually my business emails that I check first, printing off orders etc. Then I check the church ones, deciding which ones need to be answered and which can be deleted pronto (and yes, there are a lot of those). After that, things vary enormously from day to day. On Wednesdays and Thursdays I have services at 10.00 in Coleford (W) and Holcombe (T) and I try to do some visiting after those. On Tuesdays I very often have an acupuncture appointment in Frome and so if I need to do anything else in Frome, such as a visit to the hospital, I try do do it then. Mondays is often a catch-up day at my desk. On Fridays I like to update websites, do my weekly emails (at the moment the Friday church email goes to 39 people, my Friday business one goes to 694!!), Facebook etc. Business wise, I typeset about 8 – 10 books during the year and also produce 4 magazines (total about 100 pages each). And then there is On The Map. Lunch tends to be around 1.30 – 2.00 which gives a long morning. In term time, I usually take Assembly in Bishop Henderson on a Wednesday afternoon. I try to go to Kilmersdon (the ‘official’ school for Holcombe children) about 3 or 4 times a term on a Friday morning. On Saturdays there is often something in one of the villages such as a jumble sale or breakfast in HVH (as tomorrow) to attend, or there might be a wedding or a Christening. Then there are often meetings – perhaps seeing Wardens, Secretaries or others, and things for the Deanery. In the evenings I may see wedding couples, or have a meeting (Parochial Church Council, School Governors, Deanery etc) or something like a Quiz. I try to limit my evenings to 2 per week but it varies. Some weeks I will have a funeral, or need to do a funeral visit, and sometimes I am called out to see someone. For that I am available 24/7 unless I am away. On Sundays I never look at my computer, and I find that two services in the morning sets me up nicely for a good sleep in the afternoon. I do a lot of reading (I will write more another week) and of course there is sermon preparation. In fact, there is no ‘typical’ day or week because I just can’t say what will come up. I have a firm list of things to do, of which I usually manage about half – three quarters, plus rather a lot of other things. At the moment I am still needing to rest in the afternoon, and normally sleeping but I hope that will come to an end in a few weeks’ time.
2nd August – “What’s it like being a vicar today?” I was asked. I thought I would start by giving an account of a ‘typical’ day, if there is ever such a thing. My day always begins with Morning Prayer. The canonical (correct) hour for saying Morning Prayer is 10.00 but while that worked in the past when vicar’s mornings were given over to prayer and study, it does not do so today for most of us. When I say Morning Prayer depends on how I sleep. If I sleep through the night, then I say it at 5.30 am, but usually a few nights in the week I will wake and know I am not going to sleep again for a while, so I say it then, usually around 2.00 – 3.00 am. And sometimes I just don’t get to sleep so I say it just after midnight! For this reason, I always say it in bed.
All clergy are required to say MP, but we don’t all use the same books! Up until 2002, the official book to use for MP was the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and indeed some clergy still use that. Some of the more Anglo-Catholic of the clergy used to use the Roman Catholic MP (and I expect some still do) and some of the more Evangelical Clergy used a more free style. In 1992 Celebrating Common Prayer was published by the Society of St Francis, and many people used that. In 2002 the Preliminary Edition of Common Worship Daily Prayer was published, and then the final edition came out in 2005, and has been reprinted several times. This is what I have always used.
The Lectionary for the Year gives the Psalms and readings to be used. However, I don’t use that! I like to read through the whole Psalter every four weeks, and I read through the Bible straight through (which people always say you shouldn’t but which I find helpful). At the moment I am using the Common English Study Bible for the NT, and for the Old I am about to finish The Bible for Everyone. See my comments under Bibles on this website. If it is a Saint’s Day, I use a book called Celebrating the Saints by Robert Atwell (now Bp of Exeter) which was published in 1998. You can now buy a more extended version which covers Saints in the whole of Britain as opposed to just England. But I like the one I have and it is enough for me.
Bishop Ruth talked last week at the Deanery service about how difficult Prayer is, and I have to confess this is something I struggle with. I have a number of set prayers, which I use each week (I have these pasted into a book and use them over the period of the week) and then I pray for people in the parish on a rota, although some people need prayers more often. I also pray for some other people, sometimes every day, and sometimes by rota, and I also use the booklets provided by the Church Missionary Society and by the Barnabas Fund (persecuted church). The whole of MP usually takes about an hour – sometimes longer and sometimes not quite so long.
I will carry on writing about a Vicar’s day next week.
What I do not want to do is to carry on repeating what I say in my weekly Friday e-Newsletter, unless there are people who only read this Vicar’s Blog. So if you do only read this, please email me.
26th July – very sadly, we have had to cancel our Summer Meal tonight, we just didn’t sell enough tickets. Hopefully, we shall re-arrange at a later date. This Sunday morning (28th) there will be no service in either Coleford or Holcombe. Instead, we are going to our Deanery Service in St John’s Midsomer Norton at 10.30. Bishop Ruth will be preaching, and if you want to feel what it is like to worship in an absolutely packed church, please come and join us, but get there early! I have to confess it has been so hot this week that I have done very little extra, although I have enjoyed resting in the garden. We had clergy prayers then on Wednesday. I am feeling a lot better, just not energetic! And I suspect I am not alone. I know some people have had to work in horrific conditions, and I feel really sorry for them. And do please keep an eye out for neighbours who might not be so good.
20th July – I am feeling better each day, though still making sure I pace myself well. But I have been able to do a little bit more every day. And yesterday I was able – and privileged – to take Rita House’s funeral in the afternoon with no ill effects. Tomorrow, Sunday 21st, we have our Dedication Service in Holy Trinity at 9.30 – Holy Trinity is now 188 years old! In St Andrew’s tomorrow, I shall be showing our Deanery Film instead of a sermon (at 11.15). This Friday, 26th at 7.30 it will be our Summer Meal in Holcombe Village Hall. I have been absolutely hopeless and not paid for my ticket yet, but I shall be doing so tomorrow. The menu looks absolutely delicious, and includes things I can eat even on my special diet. So if you would like a ticket, please ring Liz on 01761 232372 or Paula on 01761 232307. There will be a bar, a raffle and entertainment – and don’t ask me what that will be because I have not been told! I am looking forward to it very much. Next Sunday morning (28th) there will be no service in either Coleford or Holcombe. Instead, we are going to our Deanery Service in St John’s Midsomer Norton at 10.30. Bishop Ruth will be preaching, and if you want to feel what it is like to worship in an absolutely packed church, please come and join us, but get there early! This week, I have had my first wedding booked for 2021 – I love weddings and am always so pleased when a couple choose to get married in any of our churches.
12th July – a better week. I was able to lead the Holcombe Gala Service last Sunday, and much enjoyed seeing the Festival of Childhood, too. That was really amazing with lots of wonderful items on show. The on Tuesday I had a meeting here, and I was able to take the services on Wednesday and Thursday. I hope to be at Breakfast in the Village Hall tomorrow (9.30 – 11.00) but that will depend on how I feel when I wake up. This Sunday I am planning to lead both services (but will not preach). However, at St Andrew’s I shall be blessing our new 100 Room and Loo. The whole area looks absolutely wonderful and we are all really pleased with it. There are just a couple of small things still to do, and also in the vestry where there are now some really good storage cupboards. And of course we also need to raise the last few thousand pounds! If you are around on Monday for our Open Hour at 11.00, do please come and have a look – we are back in the church! Have been doing quite a bit of reading while I’ve not been so well – rather too many murder mysteries but also some theological things. Am reading one about the training of clergy (or not!) in the early 19th century. Very revealing.
5th July – I should have said last time that I was on holiday last week so that there would be no blog update. Sadly, I woke on the Monday (24th) with a relapse of my M.E. Not sure where this came from, but I think probably I had been doing a bit too much, but there are things you just have to do. So I cancelled my visit to my dad’s, and spent the day in bed, and the rest of the week getting gradually better, although in the background I still felt a bit M.E.ish. But I was able to lie in the garden and read lots of murder mysteries! However, on Sunday morning (30th) I woke feeling absolutely awful. Huge thanks go to Ann M-H and Ann G-B for taking the services in Coleford and Holcombe, almost without warning. And huge thanks to go to all those who have been so supportive during this past week. Apart from having acupuncture (which I find really helps) I have not been out at all, so I have just had to cancel everything. I have managed to work both on my laptop and my desktop (it is one of those months when I have deadlines for my business as well as all the church stuff) but I am also having to rest a lot as well. I am going to have to miss the Gala Quiz tonight and also Gala all day tomorrow, but I am intending to be at the Gala Service in St Andrew’s on Sunday. Ann M-H is very kindly going to take the service again in Coleford as I think two services will be too much. And a Lay Reader, Mary Dolman, is going to lead the service at Holcombe Old Church in the evening. Fortunately she came last time and so knows the form. I am going to take things as easy as I can over the next couple of weeks, and will not be able to do anything in the evenings. I am feeling very fed up, and am not sure where God is in all this. But I shall get better, and will be properly back as soon as I can.
21st June – well the weather has been very unlike ‘flaming June’ with very heavy rain, and it has not been warm. But the rain held off during the Vicarage Garden Open Afternoon last Saturday, and lots of people came and looked round. Teas etc were in the Church Hall which worked incredibly well except that the electricity failed and kettles had to be taken to and from the Vicarage. We made £200.50p for each church from the teas, raffle and b&b. In addition donations for St Andrew’s brought their share to £224 for the Loo Fund. Holy Trinity’s donations and Gift Day envelopes have not yet been counted. On Monday we celebrated Tim’s 60th birthday at our Open Hour. Two cakes had been made and it was a really lovely occasion. The work on the Loo and other things at St Andrew’s is coming on very nicely and I hope all will be finished in a couple of weeks. We are busy getting ready for the Holcombe Gala Weekend. St Andrew’s will have a stand on the Gala Field, and we are also holding a Festival of Childhood in the Church (open from 2.00 – 4.00 on both 6th and 7th July). I am busy working out what I can lend for this. On Sunday morning we have our Gala Service at 11.15. Let’s hope the weather improves!
14th June – oh, this weather! I can actually see just a bit of blue sky now, but it has been really raining hard. However, this did not put people off from coming to Rattle the Roof last week, it was really fantastic and huge thanks go to all who came, Ron and Margaret for playing and Abbey Piano services for lending the Grand Piano. All who were there really enjoyed themselves and yes, we shall be doing it again next year! Tomorrow we have the Vicarage Garden Open Afternoon from 2.00 – 4.00 and please don’t let the weather put you off. Adam, Eddie and Peter have worked really hard in the last 24 hours to get the garden looking absolutely beautiful. We may well have to have teas in the church hall, but wrap yourself in your waterproofs and come! On Monday we have our Open Hour at John Ashley’s at 11.00 and will be celebrating Tim’s 60th birthday which is actually on Wednesday. After that, the Support Group are meeting to plan future events. You can now see the Deanery Film on the website. The actual page is password protected and the password is Churches (with a capital C. Enjoy it! If you want to see it in church, we will be showing it in Coleford next Sunday 23rd at 9.30 (instead of the sermon!).
7th June – it is certainly pouring today but last Saturday the weather was lovely and we had a fabulous Gift Day, Fete and Barbecue at St Andrew’s. So far have raised about £1,500 but still plenty of time for more to come in. Evensong at Holcombe Old Church was really special, and we had 44 adults + one child which was a terrific number for the summer. The installation of the Loo has now started and we are all feeling very excited about that. On Monday, we had our Open Hour at John Ashley’s and there must have been about 17 people + 3 dogs so it was lovely. Tonight we have the Rattle the Roof in Holy Trinity at 7.00. Please don’t let the weather put you off – we have a really wonderful organist who will be playing the grand piano (thanks to Abbey Piano Services) and of course Ron on his accordion. Singing some terrific hymns as well. Everything is being got ready for our Vicarage Garden Open Afternoon next Saturday 15th June (2.00 – 4.00)but this rain is not helping! Tomorrow, there is breakfast in Holcombe Village Hall (9.30 – 11.00) and then Julia Neesam is having a Garden Party at her home, The Grove, in Lower Coleford, starting at 2.00, in aid of Dorothy House. We are also busy getting teams together for the Huckyduck Carnival Quiz next Friday (7.30 for 8.00 in the Legion).
31st May – well, it was supposed to be lovely today, and although it isn’t raining it is not exactly hot summer. However, tomorrow the weather for our Gift Day, Fete and Barbecue 11.00 – 1.00 at St Andrew’s is supposed to be glorious, so do come and join us. We have terrific stalls, and there will be a great barbecue. And we need to sell everything because of clearing the church for our Loo installation next week. I have been doing some weeding (though not as much as others) for our Vicarage Garden Open Afternoon on Saturday 15th June (2.00 – 4.00). The garden is looking lovely with all the roses coming out – and on Monday we still had one daffodil though that certainly will have gone by mid June! There will be cream teas, a raffle and a bring & buy. We look forward to seeing as many people as possible. Requests for Hymns for Rattle the Roof (an evening of Hymn Singing in Holy Trinity) next Friday 7th June at 7.00 are coming in. There is still time to choose hymns so do please email me. Music will mostly be provided by a grand piano (lent to us for the evening by Abbey Piano Services – their shop is where the Post Office used to be) and also Ron on his accordion. If you have not looked at our Bibles page recently, please do so. I am adding a Bible each week. Have done a lot this week, but of course never enough.
24th May – the Quiz last Friday for Holy Trinity went really well, and people enjoyed it a lot. Huge thanks to Heather A for organising it. I was absolutely amazed when our team came Joint Second, although we lost it on the third tiebreaker (my apologies to Heather R who had the answer almost spot on). But then it wouldn’t have looked very good for the Vicar to collect a prize in a church quiz …
In St Andrew’s, we spent a couple of hours last Saturday morning clearing out the 100 Room and the Vestry in preparation for the Loo etc being installed. We have had to leave quite a bit of stuff in for Saturday 1st (our Gift Day, Fete and Barbecue 11.00 – 1.00) but will clear everything completely before Monday 3rd. There will be coffee after church this Sunday (no sherry, Jane has taken the glasses to sort) and the Monday Open Hour this coming Monday 27th will also take place. After that, on Sunday 2nd we shall be far too busy clearing everything, and from Monday 3rd the Open Hour will be in a marquee at John Ashley’s, The Acorns, Brewery Lane BA3 5EG. It’s the Oasis turning next to the Manor. Huge thanks go to John for his hospitality.
This coming Thursday it is Ascension Day, and the start of Thy Kingdom Come (the global wave of daily prayer between Ascension and Pentecost. St Andrew’s Church will be open for prayer from 9.30 – 11.30, which will include our 10.00 Holy Communion service for Ascension. After that, the church will be open most days, and people will be able to come in and pray – in the vestry which can be relatively quiet (the loo will be being installed at the back of the church).
Rattle the Roof (an evening of Hymn Singing in Holy Trinity) takes place on Friday 7th June at 7.00. There is still time to choose hymns so do please email me. Music will mostly be provided by a grand piano (lent to us for the evening by Abbey Piano Services – their shop is where the Post Office used to be) and also Ron on his accordion.
17th May – a lot of events are being planned at the moment, so I will just mention three here:
1. Thy Kingdom Come May 30th to June 9th. St Andrew’s will mark this global wave of daily prayer between Ascension and Pentecost – May 30th to June 9th. A large poster will be placed outside the church advertising this, and lining the path of the churchyard will be pebbles spelling out the title ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. We are asked to identify five areas to pray for daily during this season. We will pray for doctors and nurses in areas of conflict, the growing number of suicide among teenagers; the entrapment of slavery; families suffering in poverty and for people persecuted for their faith. Representing the five issues that St Andrews has chosen, a member of our congregation will take five smaller pebbles on pilgrimage to Rome. Thy Kingdom Come starts on Thursday 30th May. The church will be open for prayer from 9.30 until 11.30 that day, including our Ascension Day service at 10.00, to which all are welcome. Because of the work on our Loo, we will not be holding any extra services after that, but the church will be open for people to come in and pray for much of the week from Monday 3rd June, although we can’t promise it will be quiet as the men will be working there.
2. Gift Day, Fête and Barbecue, Saturday 1st June On Saturday 1st June from 11.00 – 1pm we shall be holding our annual Gift Day, Fête and Barbecue which will include a wide variety of stalls such as cakes and produce, plants and fresh fruit, bric-a-brac, children’s toys, books, raffle and tombola. We shall also be serving tea and coffee, and there will of course be our barbecue. This day raises some much needed funds for St Andrew’s, in order to help us pay our parish share, which went up quite a bit this year and is £12,654, and simply to help pay for the everyday running costs.
3. Rattle the Roof, Friday 7th June, 7.00 in Holy Trinity This is your chance to enjoy singing hymns which you love – perhaps something you have not sung for years, something you had at your wedding, something particularly personal for you, or just something you love to sing. We are hoping to have music provided by both a grand piano and by Ron on his accordion. Several people have already given hymn requests, but there is still time to ask for something you would like. Please email me. There will be an interval during which you will be able to enjoy a drink and there will also be a raffle. There will be no charge for the evening.
Probably the most exciting news this week is that work will start on our Loo at St Andrew’s on Monday 3rd June. This is thrilling news and more anon.
10th May – There have just not been enough hours in the days over the last week, but I feel a bit as though I am coming up for air today as apart from going to Kilmersdon School for Assembly this morning I am going to be at my desk all day until I go out tonight for the Murder Mystery Play at the Legion to which I am much looking forward. Spent Tuesday in Wells doing Safeguarding Training (all clergy have to do it once every three years, as do our Safeguarding Officers and anyone else who is DBSd) and actually it was a very interesting day as well as being rather harrowing with several case studies. Then in the evening Holy Trinity Parochial Church Council met in my study. On Wednesday, among other things I celebrated Communion in Holy Trinity, led Assembly at Bishop Henderson, and in the evening had what is called the Archdeacon’s Visitation in Midsomer Norton. This is when Churchwardens are sworn in, and our two Holcombe wardens, Ann and Anne-Marie, enjoyed it very much, as did I. Yesterday, after Communion at St Andrew’s, I did a couple of very brief visits before going to Holcombe Old Church. In the evening, St Andrew’s PCC met here in my study. I have just finished reading a book on Eucharistic Prayers, worldwide and from earliest times up until about the end of the 18th century. Absolutely fascinating, and makes me realise how lucky we are to have much shorter prayers in the Church of England now. I think all is in hand for our Quiz on Friday 17th at the Legion – if you haven’t booked yet, please get in touch with Heather Allen on 01373 812137 or email her. Also getting going on Rattle the Roof – an evening of singing your favourite hymns in Holy Trinity on Friday 7th June. In Holcombe, we are busy planning our Fete and Gift Day on Saturday 1st June (11.00 – 1.00) and then both churches are starting to plan for the Vicarage Garden Open Afternoon (2.00 – 4.00 on Saturday 15th June) + cream teas etc. And of course in Holcombe our thoughts are turning towards our Pet Service on Sunday 23rd June and the Gala weekend.
3rd May – Easter seems a long time ago now, but it was wonderful and I also managed a good rest afterwards. Didn’t go away but actually did a lot of theological reading which was surprising – normally I move to children’s books or murders when on a break! I was disappointed that we didn’t have more people at the Jenny Peplow concert last Friday, but they were absolutely incredible – really wonderful singing. And we raised £488.85 which was fantastic, so a huge thank you to all who helped in any way or came. Our next event is our Quiz at the Legion on Friday 17th and you need to book tickets through Heather Allen – either ring her on 01373 812137 or email her. We are busy preparing for the Vicarage Garden being open on Saturday 15th June (2.00 – 4.00) and at St Andrew’s we are also preparing for our Fete and Gala on Saturday 1st June (11.00 – 1.00) and then Gala on 6th / 7th July (more anon). This week has been incredibly hectic today, and shortly I shall be going out – acupuncture in Frome, funeral in High Littleton + the crematorium and wedding rehearsal in Wellow. I am not abandoning the parish but we are short of vicars at the moment.