Saturday, January 20, 2007
Recently I’ve had cause to reflect again on how very blessed I am to be training here with FabVicar…
Reverendmother is just one of my friends who has had a recent disappointment inflicted by the senior pastor at her church. I know some others, at home and abroad, who have a really tough time.
So I wanted to say thankyou.
I’m glad to say that FabVicar is not the Perfect Priest (that would be both too intimidating, and too unreal to cope with) but as boss and colleague, he’s a pretty close approximation.
Do I want to try something new? – He’ll roll up his sleeves and join in, or, if it’s more appropriate, will leave me to get on with it, helping me make adjustments to my other commitments to accommodate it.
Am I stuck with something?- He won’t take over, but will help me to disentangle the threads so that the situation seems more manageable
Out of my depths? He’ll listen, pray, throw me a life belt or give me space to seek the help I need…
What he never EVER does is play the “I’m the vicar” card.
He apologises that the final lesson in the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is listed in the order of service as belonging to the vicar. Other Festival services are shared equally. 2005 I presided at Midnight and he preached, reversing the order on Christmas Day…2006 we simply switched the pattern. Last Easter I presided at the Easter Vigil, while he did Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday…but at both of those, I preached and this year, we’ll doubtless switch roles again. He quite simply does everything he can to allow me the best opportunities to learn and grow while I’m here, recognising that as colleagues we bring different gifts and different failings to our ministry here. (Our poor congregation, specially A in the Office, will affirm that advance preparations are not among our natural giftings- but perfection would, as I say, be boring!).
The first time we walked into Evensong after I was ordained priest, he changed the order of procession so that we now walk side by side – something that I suspect nobody else even noticed, but which speaks volumes about his attitude to our ministry here.
Readers outside the institutional church may think that all of this is simply commonsense, but I assure you that it's by no means the universal experience of curates and assistant clergy.
I have so many reasons to be grateful - and I really, really am.