”Surprised you’ve got the time to do that Vicar”
l was reading an article the other day about a vicar who had written about an encounter he had recently had with a member of his congregation. At the time he was cutting the hedge in the Vicarage garden in his free time when someone stopped to talk to him and in the conversation made the comment above. The vicar went on to explain it was his day off and how he enjoyed a little gardening as a form of relaxation. The reply came back quite swiftly ”Well it’s a shame you’re not as keen to spend time with the weeds in the congregation as you are with those in your garden”.
The vicar went on to say he was quite hurt and distressed by the encounter and more so that he had taken time to try to justify why he was gardening in the first place and that it was in his own time.
l guess that any of us in any form of ministry lay ourselves open to that sort of reaction when seen doing something outside of our daily routine. Even things that are a necessity, like gardening may give for relaxation or indeed a myriad of other pursuits including a trip to the shops. But everyone needs space and time to unwind, chill and enjoy and to do that which relaxes them. l’m not the best at having a full clear day off or indeed annual leave and often allow myself to still deal with pastoral concerns and demands if local, thus have chosen to have a few days away at the and of the month and will be “out of town” hopefully enjoying a few summer days taking in the beauty of Devon. i feel i need it after what has been a very full and active few weeks of late. ‘
Jesus sometimes went away to a quiet place, maybe on a boat or to a mountain side. He would no doubt reflect upon and take stock of his ministry and certainly pray.
The opposite of not having time is to have plenty and I know that some of you find it difficult to fill your day once the chores are done. l can’t appreciate what that is like, but imagine it must be hard as boredom can so easily creep in. That’s why we like to offer the minibus trips and social events, some of which are better supported than others. I sometimes think I exercise a better ministry while driving a minibus trip and becoming engaged in conversation than by what I say from the pulpit! The one to one or group chat with response is good and how many times have we each challenged one another with whatever subject we may have been talking about and how it may or may not affect our spiritual life. is it any wonder I take the odd wrong turn?
The Church faces many challenges today and the signs are not that hopeful of revival even within our denomination despite all the changes of recent months. l think we live in a fool’s paradise if we think families and young people are suddenly going to join up and accept our way of doing things, suffice to rejoice at what we have, what we are and what we can do.
And if you see me doing a bit of gardening be careful what you say or you may get a surprise!