Of course the week begins on Sunday - at least in the Christian calendar - but Monday is the day when, having prayed together, my colleagues and I get together to check up on what we need to do, how the service rota is looking (with 13 parishes this is quite and endeavour), make sure we are all OK (relatively speaking) and talk about what we need to keep an eye on in the coming week.
Now most people probably would dread a weekly staff/business meeting, but this is one of the highlights of my week! As well as praying together, which is always a good thing to do, there is a sense of sharing together and a lot of laughter in our meetings. We've had some rough times over the past few years, and there continue to be pressure points which cause us all stress at one time or another, but there is a sense of not being alone in any of this. The life of a minister can seem a pretty lonely furrow to plough some of the time, and the idea of being in a parish where it is just me with the final say in everything and the minister is the 'Lord High Grand Executioner' and all kinds of leader rolled into one seems a recipe for going either completely power-mad or simply just mad. Of course us ordained types work together with all the people in the Church, and we are fantastically supported (on the whole) by our Churchwardens and Parochial Church Councils - but in so many parishes there is still a 'Father knows best' mentality (even with a woman minister!). To have a feeling of shared responsibility with other lay and ordained ministers, and to have structures which seek to build up lay involvement and lay responsibility may seem like harder work when we get to setting them up and getting them running, but in the long term this shared ministry is liberating for both Clergy and those who are empowered to perform their own ministries through them.
Wasn't planning to write any of that, but that's often the way with blogging.
What I was going to write is that I have a growing sense of anxiety because we are down to two full time ordained ministers for the time being to cover 13 parishes - one of our number is off long-term sick and another on maternity leave - so there is quite a task ahead of us, because even with the able and gifted laity we have in many of those parishes much of the everyday work, and certainly many of the pastoral tasks will fall to me and my colleague. We do have two very talented and hardworking voluntary ministers (known as NSMs - Non Stipendiary Ministers, ie unpaid) but as they are in their first year of ordained ministry they are also being trained 'on the job'. So it comes down to the two of us to take on much of the day to day responsibility for running and supporting these parishes. I've done this before, when it was down to me and the team Rector to cover for about 10 months, and i remember just how much hard work it was, and how things got somewhat stretched and certain things fell through the net. Something tells me that prayer will be an (even more) important part of the coming months...