Church Times Diary June 2017
I like to think that I've become something of a media star over the last 9 months. Well, by this I mean I now have a “thought for the day” slot at 7.00am on Uckfield F. M.radio once a fortnight. Like much of local Radio, U.F.M. is a real presence in the local area; maintained & run by a small group of enthusiasts it is a major player in the community and – as invaluable supporters of our local churches and our numerous activities - we want to support them too. Hence my staggering out on alternate Fridays at silly-o-clock in the morning to chat on anything from church pews to the Rugby Club, from Mother Theresa to decorating Christmas trees.
Mind you, it hasn't always been plain sailing: I remember sitting in my stall at 8.00am for Morning Prayer on Remembrance Day last year with an uneasily feeling that I'd forgotten something, when it dawned on me that I was supposed to have been talking about Ypres and the Menin Gate an hour earlier. I've subsequently recorded a spare in case I have another mental aberration.
Mind you, it almost didn't happen at all when I started. On my first broadcast, I duly turned up the agreed 10 minutes before, all ready to go. I'd already cased the joint so I knew where to find the studio in the little group of industrial buildings in a farm yard a mile out of town. I knocked on the front door. Silence. I rang the bell. Still silence. I rattled the doors & was starting to panic as the minutes ticked away when the presenter, Gary, poked his head out of the upstairs window & called me up by the back staircase, which was the the real entrance on the other side of the building. It seems I'd been trying to break into the beauty parlour which actually occupies the ground floor. Lucky it's not television: I suspect the CCTV would have had amusement value….
One of the really useful things about starting over again having been a long time in a previous post is the joy of re-cycling. You can mine old sermons for raw material and revamp pre-loved Parish Magazine Vicar’s letters, but the best bit is rerunning old favourite school assemblies. I've got three Primary Schools at the moment & am going to be taking on a fourth, and I always start with the same assembly, a tried and tested way to introduce myself.
I go in armed with a microwave and a mixing bowl and a bag of mystery ingredients: I tell the children I’m going to bake a cake. After a chat about the wonders of the Great British Bake-off & Mary Berry (modifications sadly now needed there) I produce a recipe book. “You know what?” I tell them. “I'm such a brilliant baker I don't need a recipe! I'll do it my way!” and hurl the book across the hall. I then proceed to produce scales. “I don't need these, I know what I'm doing ‘cos I'm so brilliant”. I then ask them what we need for a cake & proceed to pour out flour, milk and add butter haphazardly & vigorously mix it all up. By now they're getting restive. I then break eggs in, dropping the shells in too. Restive turns gently riotous. I then say that as it's my cake, I'll put in things I like & continue with a jar full of strawberry jam and a good squirt of tomato sauce. Lastly, as a finale, i add a pinch (about half a pack) of cooking salt. Rioting continues. I then put the mixture in the microwave asking if it will be a nice cake. The answer is a resounding no, and I ask the children why. They tell me I didn't follow the recipe, I didn't measure anything, I put wrong things in - above all the salt - and generally was very silly. By then the cake is done & is suitably vile. I point out that the ingredients were all good, but I didn't use them properly because I thought I knew best & wanted to do it my way.
The moral is that God gives us the ingredients for a good life, if we listen to him and follow his plans for us, working with others to make something good, but if you just do your own thing selfishly then it's a mess.
Do they remember the moral? No: all they remember is that Fr. John’s a rotten cook. It's a splendid ice breaker, though.
The Rector – John Wall
Reproduced by kind permission of The Church Times.
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