Sunday 17th March

The second Sunday of Lent and I am not preaching. This is rare and something, as I have the power of the rota, that I can enjoy more frequently. I enjoy preaching and believe it is one of the gifts that God has given me. However, to have had a week without preparing a sermon has freed up some time, including the freedom to have a more relaxed Saturday which meant that yesterday I could have lunch with my daughter. Those of you who read yesterday’s blog about the mirror may be interested (and I hope pleased) to know that following a conversation with my husband we came to the obvious conclusion that we should get the mirror back in working order and dispose of the current pine mirror on my dressing table. How long it will take to go to B&Q (or other hardware store) and get the right size metal bit with screw is anyone’s guess. Perhaps we should open a book on it and take bets. What are the odds of it being done by this time next week?

Today started with reading from a classic Christian book, Abandonment to Divine Providence, aka The Sacrament of the Present Moment. My spiritual director suggested it when I was telling her about having a group of teenage girls in a Mindfulness group at the JCB academy where I am chaplain. Mindfulness is secular but very similar to the spiritual practice of meditation. Mindfulness has a simple premise – focus on the present moment, training the mind to not dwell on the past or the future. I like the way that the mind has been compared to a puppy – goes off in all directions often bringing back stuff you don’t want and incapable of sitting still for very long. Today I shall aim to be aware of the present moment and open to discerning what God’s will is for me.

The following is from pages 8 & 9 of the book (Kindle version)

Whether it be meditation, contemplation, vocal prayer, interior silence, or the active use of any of the faculties, either sensible and distinct, or almost imperceptible; quiet retreat, or active employment, whatever it may be in itself, even if very desirable, that which God wills for the present moment is best and all else must be regarded by the soul as being nothing at all. Thus, beholding God in all things it must take or leave them all as He pleases, and neither desire to live, nor to improve, nor to hope, except as He ordains, and never by the help of things which have neither power nor virtue except from Him. It ought, at every moment and on all occasions, to say with St. Paul, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts ix, 6) without choosing this thing or that, but “whatsoever You will. The mind prefers one thing, the body another, but, Lord, I desire nothing but to accomplish Your holy will. Work, contemplation or prayer whether vocal or mental, active or passive; the prayer of faith or of understanding; that which is distinguished in kind, or gifted with universal grace: it is all nothing Lord unless made real and useful by Your will. It is to Your holy will that I devote myself and not to any of these things, however high and sublime they may be, because it is the perfection of the heart for which grace is given, and not for that of the mind.”

So, today is a 4 service day: 9am, 10.30am, 3pm and 7pm. Let’s see how it goes. Right now as I type it is time to arise from my bed, get showered, dressed and fed as I am sure it is God’s will that I arrive at Denstone on time to preside at Holy Communion.

As I sat and ate my breakfast I remembered to be mindful and not read or play the game on my phone that I often do. And as I looked across the table at the piano I noticed the book open at Only By Grace. So that song went with me into the day.

Arrived at St Michael’s for the second service to find that there was a baptism later on – 12.30pm. It was in my diary but someone had escaped my notice. So after the service (which contained the lovely song To be in Your Presence) I had to pop home to print out the Letter from God that I usually give to the baby – basically setting out that they are now adopted into God’s family and that he has something for them to do for him as they take their place in his church. It makes a good springboard for the talk. The church was full with the families of the 2 babies whose mums are sisters. Lots of noise and an inadequate sound system meant I had to hold one of the microphones very close to my mouth for much of the time. Nevertheless we got through it with voice intact.

By the time I got home for lunch – and not had time for a coffee since my morning tea – it was about 1.30pm. So I settled down to watching Masterchef and munching on some leftover Chinese food from too long ago to remember!!! It hadn’t got a fur coat so was probably OK after a good zap in the microwave. The community police officer called in to follow up a message I had left about a possible domestic violence case and before I knew it it was time to get ready for the 3pm service. Before I left I put a chicken in the over to be ready for later. All thoughts of being mindful and in the present moment gone. But having said that I had enjoyed the worship of the morning and known that I was in God’s presence. I trust that I ministered according to his will.

Back in from the 3pm, which had contained some good worship songs, by about 4.30pm and time for a quick cuppa before getting the roast potatoes in. Aiming to eat at about 6pm to leave time for getting to the 7pm Evensong. Fortunately one of the Readers is preaching and I will ask him to lead as well. You could argue that I don’t need to go. But research shows that churches grow if they have their own minister there as often as possible. I will sit in the congregation and worship free of the responsibility of making sure things go as they should. I need to be there for the all important notices at the end (must remember to tell Reader to do them then as he tends to follow the book and put them in the middle after the Evensong office and before the sermon & prayers). Last week I consulted with the congregation about the Easter Day services. Look back at last Sunday’s blog for details.

Yesterday morning I received an email from someone who had not been present last week but obvioulsy had heard the news and been consulting with others, including the church wardens who were present last week. The suggestion is that they do not have the sunrise service and do have the usual 7pm. I gave this a good deal of thought yesterday. I don’t want to appear to be at the mercy of other people’s string pulling. But I wasn’t 100% happy with there not being a 7pm service. The sunrise service had already been mentioned in the church magazine and so it seemed a bit risky to cancel in case anyone turned up. I also checked that it hadn’t been mentioned on the 680 flyers already printed and ready to be distributed in Rocester….. it wasn’t … phew! Overall I am happy with the prospect of 9am, 10.30am and 7pm celebrations of Easter. At least we can have a good lunch, which we couldn’t have if I had had to do a 3pm service.

So, we are now at almost 6pm and my reflection on the day is coming to an end….. back later. Need to check on chicken – last time I looked at 5.45pm the bit where the thighs join on was still a bit pink. See you after evensong.

Dinner was ready by 6.15 and I was ready to leave the house at 6.40. Evensong was good and we were joined by the grandson and his 3 friends of one of the congregation. As two of them were Irish and it is St Patrick’s Day we sang St Patrick’s Breastplate. Not the easiest of hymns at the best of times. It was a blessed relief to get to the end! The young men were very polite on the way out and said they’d enjoyed the service.

I arrived home feeling tired, with cold feet and aching shoulders at 8.40pm ready to sit and chill out watching Star Trek.

I think that I need to end this now. I am aware of the pain in my lower back and the need to relax. I have not yet done my drawing of the day – it may just be some simple shapes, which I do need to practise.

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