The Scottish Episcopal Church is quite generous with clergy holidays, I think. We get 4 weeks and then the inside of a week (not Sundays) after Christmas and Easter. I guess that covers the 10 days of public holidays that we miss. Then of course we have a retreat and clergy conference and possible continuing training which of course our little flocks think of as holidays because we’re not there but we know better. So it gets to a point when they say, “Oh, so you’re off on holiday AGAIN?” and at that point we think we’d better not mention that we are still due a week off this year but daren’t take it!
Anyway, I did take one of those weeks and did a bit of pottering around the house and then went down south to stay with old friends at Bracknell. It was lovely to catch up with them and be taken out and about in a lovely part of the country. This time we did Reading, Ascot, a Harvest Supper and a local garden. Nice shops, nice canal, nice dresses and hats, nice sausage rolls, nice knot garden.
I was also asked to celebrate at the Family Service at Holy Trinity, Bracknell. It is a strange thing celebrating in another church, especially when you are not familiar with the liturgy. Just as you think you know this bit there is a slight tweak to throw you off course. And I foolishly believed the chalice bearer who told me to consecrate more wine when it looked like there were only two more people waiting. Perhaps there are more in hiding, I thought, as I said a quick prayer over the flagon he’d lead me to. There was a whole lot of wine to consume at the end of that mass. But apart from that it all went terribly well and my celtic blessing made at least one woman cry. (I think that was in a good way.) Of course the microphone switch was the opposite way round from our one in CC so there was a bit of thinking I was off when I was on and thinking I was on when I was off but we get there in the end. (That’s another thing in the church that should be universal, like curtain fittings in rectories.)
Then last week they dropped me off at the Henry VIII Gate of Windsor Castle as I took part in the Clergy Consultation on Believing in Baptism at St George’s House. This year I was asked to be a Facilitator for my little group which was fun. My brain was given a good old workout with some Augustine, Calvin and Barth as well as some New Testament and the obligatory poetry (all quite good this time, I’m glad to report). We dealt with some meaty issues too, like What is Original Sin and What is the Soul? And we considered what the church would be like if we did away with Baptism. This all lead on to discussions on when a child should receive communion and what was Confirmation for? I also picked up some nice ideas for playing around with liturgy. But sshhh don’t tell the Bishop. And we had a lovely time in Canon James’ newly refurbished house in the cloisters with a glass of rather nice plonk.
The choir in the chapel were on good form and while some complained that we didn’t get to ‘join in’ at Evensong I was quite happy to sit and let the music wash over me. It is not often you get to sit among some wonderful singers belting out Tallis. The Eucharist in the morning was in my favourite little chantry chapel with the cutest unicorn to ponder.
So all in all it has been a good break. I met some super people, I saw some wonderful things, I heard some glorious music and I was well fed in the dining room and at the Eucharist.