Christmas Eve: a time to meditate solemnly on the birth of the coming King. What better time then to talk about…me…
I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas letters. The hate is diminishing as letters are changing- sometimes I used to read them and feel the enamel coming off my teeth: the life portrayed in the letter seemed to have nothing to do with real life, so gleaming, succesful and trouble free it was. Mostly now I love them: I like the stories and the reminders of normal life.
This then is mine…some of you may have got this already….
Years back at college someone said ‘You have to be pretty loyal to be friends with a Methodist Minister’. I guess she meant that they weren’t very good at keeping in touch: not because they didn’t want to, just because their hours are irregular and people can be tiring and etc, etc….as the Americans say ‘Do the math.’ (I do wish the Americans would add an ‘s’ to that though).
I could promise an improvement in 2013; but they would be empty words. Life is lovely and very full right now. I have just reread that and it seems to have a trace of smugness: it wasn’t meant to and I guess we all have got tired of those letters that describe a full life of success and achievement where doubt or any shade of grey (let alone 50 of them…ho ho…please stop, my sides are aching) are not known or acknowledged.
This is where we are right now:-
Matthew was 11 this August and he is now in senior school. He is at a lovely place and is starting to see the point of senior school and seems to like it, even if trying to get him to do homework is like trying to nail jelly to the ceiling. Despite being warned about it, he keeps forgetting to stop growing. He likes reading a lot and loves sport and he has an advantage over me: not only is he an obsessive statto, he can actually play. I have given up playing football with him as it is embarrassing.
Ben is 8 and has moved into year 4. He has a vast and bewildering social life and makes friends easily. Quietness and sober contemplation are not, however friends with him; he loves talking a lot. He is also developing an esoteric and catholic appreciation of music and frequently borrows my music. He is learning the keyboard and likes it. In football he has become a defender in the classic 70s mould: he would disable his own grandmother to help the team.
Both children also bowl leg spin. This makes me think I have done something right in their upbringing.
Victoria is older than 8 and 11. Teachers struggle to get permanent contracts, so after her last contract ended in July at her last school which was 30 miles away, she was fortunate enough to get a new contract at Matthew’s school. It went up to full time for a short time. This was great as it meant the chance of new work into 2013 and the school is really good, but two people working full time with no close family back up is not the way either of us want to live. Although temporarily financially rewarding, since Sept things have not been easy!
Me I continue to be a Methodist Minister. I mostly love it: lots of community involvement, lots of schools work, lots of involvement with people who wouldn’t self-describe as Christians etc etc. I seem to be less church based than many of my colleagues and I like this: I no longer think that church can be, pace ‘The Field’ (bad Kevin Costner film) ‘Build a field and they will come’. The churches I serve seem to appreciate and encourage this. I help to run Beaver Scouts, am in the local panto which is a Big Thing here, (7 performances each year. This year I am the Dame: funny costume, slightly effeminate voice and make almost no sense; as someone sagely intoned: you do that for a day job), have a Friday teatime group of mates at a local and occasionally fear I am getting a bit Royston Vaisey-ish (look it up on Wikipedia). This year I also managed to get to gigs by the Stone Roses, Africa Express, Radiohead and Martyn Joseph among others. I am still just about old enough to rock and roll.
I also blog extensively at www.diggingalot.org/diggingalot/. There was a time in the last month when I crept briefly into the top 70 Christian blogs in Britain. I have slipped out: downbeat and quirky esoterica coupled with honesty is not to everyone’s taste.
Time together is precious and rare- even in an average week. We managed, courtesy of the generosity of an exam board who I do some part time work for, to spend 3 blissful weeks in France together.
This year we have to face thinking about what we want to do post August 2014 and whether the church wants us or can afford us. The moving process of the Methodist Church has long ceased to make any rational sense to me and the thought of inflicting it on my family again fills me with horror. If there was a way I could do what I do without facing that until the children have finished education then I would take it. We have so much to be thankful for in a world of great need and it almost seems selfish to say this, but if you do pray: pray for us!
For those who we have managed to catch up with/have caught up with, it has been great. Hoping to catch up with a lot more of you in 2013!