Sunday, 7 September 2008

Once upon a time

... as all good fairy stories start, there was a Vicar who only had one church to look after. Every Sunday he would get up, walk across his garden, and push open the old wooden door to find a his (her) churchwardens bustling about getting the building ready for the service. The Sacristan would be laying out the altar, the organist running softly through the hymns, and the choir busy robing in the vestry. The Vicar would walk into the sacristy to find the vestments laid out ready on top of the press. Slipping them on, he (she) would pick up their hymn book and when everyone else was ready, the choir would lead the procession out through the door and the first hymn would be announced.

And so on .... much of which is true when there is only the one church in the Benefice. But when there are 11 ....

Now don't think I'm bemoaning my lot. I love the variety of the ancient buildings in this rural benefice, and I'm grateful for the preparation that the faithful few do prior to a service, but on a Sunday such as today, when not only was there a baptism at the early service (9.45 a.m.) and no organist at either that or the 11.15 a.m. following, few realise just how much stuff I have to cart around. For the baptism there are the service booklets, the paschal candle (there's just one for the benefice - not one per church), oils, baptism card and candle; and then for both services not only the vestments, but also the Sunday reading sheets, Gospel book, my service book, hymn book, and in the absence of the organists, the hi-fi system with speakers and extension cable. It's no wonder my back plays up every now and again.

One thing that is rarely mentioned in the job descriptions for rural posts is that the cleric has to be fit! There isn't the luxury of having everything on hand in one building. It all has to be carted about between services. It's as bad for our organists, for I see them come into the churches with bags full of heavy music books.

Once upon a time .... ...

I don't know that I'd exchange my present role for that of a single church, but there are times when it does seem fleetingly attractive!

1 comment:

  1. I'm counting my blessings. Somedays I grumble that the baptism service cards haven't been placed out ready in the sacristy. I know, I know - spoilt clergy!