This afteroon eight of us gathered in Strathblane, for a home communion. We've been doing this once a month for nearly ten years, meeting at Daphne's, who can't get to church. Three staff pick up four of our senior members and drive out together for what is invariably a highlight of our work. These senior ladies are witty, clever and often enthrall us with their histories. I've come to know them well over the years. They are very direct and let me know when something in church doesn't suit them. On the other hand, they are very loyal. They are also great fun, and cheeky to me (this of course is very Scottish- you only insult those you love. At least I hope that's what it is.) Above all else, they pray. Before communion, we ask one another what we need in prayer. Today over coffee, Eve shared a Christmas poem 'wot she wrote'. It was good! Almost had me in tears. This was a special time, gathering around the bread and wine to remember what this season is all about.
Contrast the above with this evening in Asda, Govan. Playing bumper cars with a dodgy trolley was no fun, especially when it was a case of 'everyone for themselves'. At one point, I had this mad urge to simply grab things off the shelf randomly, just to get it all over with. 'I'm in hell', I speculatively told Ms GadgetVicar when she called me. Happily, a young man was helping pack bags for charity at the checkouts, which got me out quicker.
In twenty years of married life, it has been my duty to do the weekly shop (a feeble attempt at being, in any sense, 'a new man'). Tonight was truly the worst experience of grocery shopping ever. I'll be going back to internet shopping in the New Year.
We're off for a break tomorrow on the shores of Loch Eck. No leading or preaching at Christmas services for me this year, which will be odd, but it feels like I need it. One minister colleague asked me this week how I managed to get a Christmas off. It's one of the benefits of being in a team, I reckon. This year has been extraordinary in some ways, and I'm looking forward to a restful time with the GadgetVicar family. They'll remember this as the Christmas dad didn't work for a change. That's my big gift to them this year - some time.
No internet access where we're going, so it will be next Wednesday before normal service is resumed.
All love and a very Happy Christmas!