Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Diary Planning

It’s the Junior Church Teachers’ Meeting ‘that done it’! 

Our Church Meeting date has been altered and we’ll now gather on an evening that had been set aside for the Junior Church staff.  Our Co-ordinators accommodated this request with exemplary grace.  And then began the quest for the ‘holy grail’ – another date!  To my horror (if you exclude Friday and Saturday evenings when no one would really want to meet) I couldn’t make any other evening between now and Christmas.  That’s just ridiculous – my diary planning has gone down the pan and it’s prompted me to ask myself a few questions.

Now I know it’s difficult to understand why a person who ‘only works one day a week’ should have difficulty with his diary!  Well, I think it has something to do with your home being your office and the weekends containing that ‘one day a week’ when you work!  Alongside that there are the various committees and commitments one pencils in alongside all the routine stuff – and these are meetings and encounters that I value very much indeed and genuinely want to be part of. So you can imagine that when Rachel sat down the other evening and offered to highlight in red all the things I should stop attending – we had a robust discussion!

I, maybe like you, need to read ‘the signs’ of my own ‘busy-ness’ better.  I need to hear myself groan inwardly when someone suggests an extra gathering and I need to stop ‘fitting things in’ to an already overcrowded diary.

In all of this I’m very conscious of the words of the Bishop of Bath and Wells – some of you may remember his visit to us at the united service in St John’s last year. He began his sermon by talking about the delusion we can have that we are the ‘victims’ of a busy life.  He said that we are all as busy ‘as we want to be’.  Now ‘discuss’ that I thought! 

Of course there are many moments when it all runs away from us and we simply have to get through it.  Yet it can never be right to come to the end of a service, encounter or event with the idea that we can simply tick it off the list and move on.  Whatever happened to lingering in the glow of that moment or pondering the significance of our conversation together?  A friend of mine put to me like this the other day – I want to ‘capture’ more of these moments.

I’m a great fan of a now defunct TV series from the USA called The West Wing.  It chronicled, through seven wonderful series, the fictitious goings on at The White House under President Jed Bartlett.  And to give the impression of the immense pressure of this office the script writers gave Bartlett a saying, used at the end of every meeting or encounter throughout the day – he would say ‘What’s next?’

Such inevitable and exhausting momentum is not good, I believe, for the soul.  It means our minds rarely have the time to catch up with our bodies.

There is a blessing in a less crowded routine – and there can be precious God given surprises on a day when nothing much was in the diary.  All of this is medicine I need to start taking instead of advice on the prescription I give out to others.

Well – this blog has been something of a confessional – I’ve written it simply because I don’t believe I’m the only one who wants to keep a few more of the pages in next year’s diary clear.  And perhaps I can start, as we come to the last Sunday of the Church Year this week, by making upcoming Advent a time when I consciously take onboard the wisdom filled words of the Psalmist when he said: ‘Be still..........and know that I am God.

Last weekend was such a moving occasion as we shared worship together on Remembrance Sunday – probably our biggest congregation of the year– for fire precaution purposes we actually counted and 186 folks attended.  This weekend the Deacons gather to consider the wording of a possible Church Constitution – and on Sunday evening a group of 45 of us will be attending the ACM Gospel Concert at the Octagon Theatre.
With best wishes,

Ian

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