Friday was less good, still beautiful and I would have loved to be outside making the most of my day off, but had to try to get to grips with seriously overdue expenses which are causing us some financial concerns at the moment. It is all entirely my fault, as expenses is one of the jobs I hate so I have put this off again and again until things have got a little tight....
For my expenses here, which are modest but a significant portion of our monthly expenditure, I have had a retired accountant volunteer to take my receipts for each month and make sense of them so I can submit them to the treasuree. Fortunately i keep all receipts and a careful record of my mileage so I can do this relatively easily. It's just getting down to it that has proved a problem. Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow!
But this offer is just one way in which these local parishes have made a supreme effort to take care of their minister! This morning someone from this parish came and cut the lawn - a couple of hours work that again would probably have had to be done on my day off otherwise (I was out on a funeral visit whilst it happened).
There is a strong philosophy in this Mission Community that they wish to 'free up' their ministers in order to actually minister. Whether that is by paying for an admin assistant, volunteering to babysit so that lovely wife and I can attend village functions, looking after the garden, making sure that the Vicarage was in very good order when we arrived, having pastoral visiting teams to do initial visits to those in need, having vice-Chairs willing to lead PCCs in the Vicar's absence, supporting lay worship leading teams for family services or any one of a hundred other ways in which they want to encourage myself or my colleagues to consider the wider needs of the parish, to have time to prepare worship and sermons, to train folk to fulfill different roles in our parish churches, to see the bigger picture and offer leadership.
I feel very well looked after, recognising that this is done that I might be able to better look after the church and village communities of this Five Alive Mission Community. With these privileges come a measure of responsibility! By grace, I hope I can fulfill some of the needs of these parishes!