The first part of this week, as we approached our patronal festival, was spent very much focussed on that one service - on making the church building beautiful, on ensuring that the liturgy was "right" and the service booklets accurate...All went well, in a slightly unhinged kind of way, and I believe that the impact of such a celebration will continue to resource us for a good while to come. To have seven confirmands making that significant step in faith surrounded by friends, family and at least a sprinkling of their church family too was a truly wonderful thing.
But I suspect that God thought it was time to remind me of my calling to the whole parish, not just those who gather within the church building - even for such joyous celebrations...
You see, the very next morning I was booked to take a funeral - the stuff of everyday life, of course, but with added complications in the family that has been left behind.
I also heard of great and traumatic upheavals in the life of a beloved friend.
Next day another parishioner arrived to talk about a crisis that could derail her life just when it seemed to be coming together and yesterday the phone rang with another huge and unprecedented event that has blown apart somebody's world.
Fortunately nobody expects me to wade in and fix these situations - most of them are beyond short term fixing, and for those that aren't, there are others with far greater expertise already at work. But, simply by virtue of being "the vicar" people still believe that I should be involved. They believe, even when I doubt it myself, that there is something I can bring to their situation which that situation needs.
They may not put it that way, but they need to know that God is involved in their lives, even when those lives seem most chaotic, least directed.
And, without exception, all of them hope that I will continue to pray for them through whatever comes next.Never mind the state of the study - the office and work of a priest is a privilege beyond words.