Forty times Z

I also offered to write up the church rota for the next three months, which I used to do but is now Andy’s job.  Sadly, there are so few of us now to do the necessary jobs that my first draft has my name down forty times.  Someone else is down fifteen times, another eleven and another three.  That’s everything except the readings on Easter Sunday and the flowers, which I have a feeling will be done between two of us for the most part.  I should add that I’m waiting to hear back from two others and I expect they will take on a few readings, at least.  I’m down so often because, whatever else I do, I’ll be playing the music until Andy is able to take his turn again.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but our Rector left last autumn to take on a new parish.  Apparently, we have a candidate for the appointment and we’re meeting him or her on Monday – I’m not very involved in church things, whatever it looks like, so the news has just caught up with me and I’ve been invited along (as has the Sage, but he has another engagement).  I don’t really approve of the way church appointments are made.  The Bishop chooses the short list, which often comprises one candidate, then there’s an interview, but it’s very much a supervised affair, so the churchwardens and other interested people don’t really have a free hand.  And, not seeing the applications, one isn’t given background knowledge and there might be reasons for putting someone forward for a post that don’t put the parish first.  I’m sure the Bishop tries very hard to put a round peg in a round hole, but more openness would be better, not least because plans could be made for mutual support before problems arise – which usually result in parishioners having found another church to attend or opted out altogether.  Of course it can work the other way and a successful minister gives a feeling of spiritual and/or practical support and encouragement, which brings more people in.  It’s not just a matter of bums on pews, but if someone comes along once in a while, they’re quite sniffy if there aren’t fresh flowers, a warm church and an equally warm welcome, with a tidy and well-mown churchyard to boot, even if they never give time or money towards providing or supporting them.  Right now, we only have one service a month when we can be sure of having double figures in the congregation, and then there are often at least forty – but it’s a family do, very informal, we serve breakfast first and, although the people who come love it, they wouldn’t come every week because young families are busy on a Sunday.  And most of the older people – except for a few who come with their grandchildren – don’t like it at all.  I don’t mind, but I’m easy-going, and even I don’t feel as if I’ve been to church.  Anyway, tomorrow I’ll be reading the lessons at the short formal service beforehand, helping with coffee and breakfast and then playing the clarinet.  And you’ll notice I’ve not mentioned God at all.  Nor am I going to.

If you’ve lasted this far, Ben is getting on very well.  His main fault is pulling hard on the lead, so I went and bought a Halti, which my mother found was marvellous with her dogs.  And it did stop him pulling, but he hated it and spent a fair bit of time trying to get it off him.  So later, just taking him for a quick trot round the village, I didn’t have the heart to put it on him and, instead, used Tilly’s extending lead, and that worked pretty well too.  Whichever I find is best, I hope to have him a lot more controllable by the time he goes back home – Gill is going to be quite nervous of walking him for a while.   He’s pretty well behaved otherwise and has an exceptionally sweet nature.  I’ll walk him into the town in the morning to fetch the Sunday papers, unless the weather is awful.

17 comments on “Forty times Z

  1. martina

    You might try having treats in your pockets so when he has the Halti on, you can bribe er convince him to not fuss about it. A dog trainer told me about this and so far, and Kipper is slowly learning to not fuss about the Halti on our walks. When she starts pawing at it, I take it off and don’t give her any treats.

  2. Z

    i walked him so early that I didn’t feel up to dog training this morning. We were fine on the way in, but I was slower on the way home and he pulled. So back to the Halti. Yes, I carry biscuits with me for bribery purposes.

  3. Ros

    After La Fluffita died last May, I tried to adopt an older quiet GSD, but ended up with an energetic, but adorable, year old Belgian Malinois. She hated the Halti, but did wellwith a harness (which was my mother’s favourite walking aid),

    As they are frequently used as service dogs, I kitted her out with harness, collar and lead in camouflage. She also now understands instructions not only in English, but also Bulgarian, as my housekeeper and her husband speak to her in their first language.

  4. Z

    I’ll persevere with the Halti for now as I know how effective it is, but if he is unhappy after a few more days I’ll think again.

    There used to be two or three times that, Wendz, but numbers have dwindled. There are six churches in the benefice, though. Today, 8 at the Communion service and 25 (2 of whom were at both) at the Café service). But bear in mind that, for most people, being C of E means “I go to church regularly, twice a year.”

  5. Tim

    Hmm. Giles Fraser still hasn’t responded to my tweet “Is it possible to be a Christian atheist?”, which I thought was a good question.

  6. Z

    Well, in the sense that one can revere Jesus, his reported behaviour, what he said and his advice on how to live one’s life, but finally reject the idea that he was actually a deity himself or that the God he believed in exists, I suspect there are quite a lot of them about.

  7. Z

    I checked the definitions of a Christian (as Tim probably did too) before writing and one of them is “One who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.” And I’m sure that there are a good many people who take all that gives them support from the New Testament without exploring (or, after having explored, rejecting) their actual belief in God.
    It’s also a contradiction in terms, since Jesus was clear that you can’t follow him without that belief, so you’re right, of course.
    A few years ago, our Rector (the one who left us recently) said earnestly that if the story of the Resurrection was not literally true in every respect, that would negate everything in Christianity and if I were the type to discuss that sort of thing, I might have challenged her on it. I kept quiet, of course.

  8. Mike and Ann

    Dear Z (and Tim), although I’m well aware of the prohibition on discussing religion and politics at table, I raised the subject of Tim’s question at the breakfast table (Ann, meself, daughter Ruth, and her daughters Tuva and Freja. Rather to my surprise Ruth and the two teenagers saw no problem in Tim’s view, whilst Ann agreed with me. Interesting result.
    And Tim, I apologise if my original comment verged on the brusque.

  9. Mike and Ann

    P.s. Ann reminds me that at one point Freja (the younger of the two granddaughters) said “How can you be a Christian without believing in God?”
    So we’ll call it a draw here.

  10. Tim

    Nothing to apologise for Mike, your comment went to the heart of the matter. Maybe it’s a matter of terminology, and we need a new word for ‘non-believing Christian’. Anyway, the prohibition extends equally to Z’s blog, I seem to recall, so I’ll shut up!

  11. mig

    I imagine that Bishops expect obedience and acceptance from their clergy and may feel that the flock ought to be the same if less rigorously so.
    It must be hard to reconcile these precepts with the desire of a parish to be involved and responsible about appointments.

  12. Z

    It’s just that I don’t want to put people off!

    Mig, this is the C of E, not the RCs. Bishops expect to be roundly argued with. Of course the Bishop should be very involved, but we have to work with the incumbent day to day – and we’re expected as a benefice to pay several tens of thousands of pounds to the diocese every year for diocesan expenses (including the Rector’s salary and pension contributions).


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