Saturday 7 April 2018

Getting Ready for Low Sunday

In her cottage in Little Tremlett, Doreen the Reader scratches her head, removes the word "surprise" and replaces it with "shock" in the spiral bound notepad she uses as a sermon book.

Doreen's covering the Morning Prayer tomorrow at "Great", in the absence of the vicar (who's on his post-Easter coma fortnight). She's also taking the 10 past 6 evensong at Woodby Chapel next Sunday. This will be a shock to the retired priest, Vyvyan Westcliffe, who thinks he's got that gig. Doreen smiles, and looks across at the sack that will unexpectedly go over the good Canon's head next week.

Those that mutter about the "riches" of the Church of England don't reckon with the Doreens of this world. When the vicar leaves at the end of the month, she's going to have at least 6 months of services to lead. Which she'll do for nothing. It's gonna take a lot of time. And she doesn't get paid. In fact, she'll have so much to do that she probably won't want to "accidentally" push Revd Vyvyan into holes in the ground, tie him to trees, superglue his locks or all the other methods she uses to get him out the way when she normally wants to take a service. She and he will have their work cut out.

The Wardens will have enough to do as well. They already spend hours and hours a week on the maintenance of the church buildings. But now they'll have to negotiate visiting ministers. They'll have to work out who to let down out of the five churches when they can't all get a retired priest, or Revd Vyyan, and they have to get Doreen in - or get the congregation to knock something up themselves.

And all the time, Doreen and the Wardens and all the worshippers won't be pulling money out of these alleged "riches" - which are mostly reserved for the pensions of the priests, who themselves earn so little and work so hard that they are often technically below the minimum wage. Although Anglicans aren't renowned for high levels of financial giving, nonetheless they're still putting their money in, ever week or every month, to keep the show on the road, keep the priests paid, keep roofs on the buildings that the villagers love so much, even if they never go in there except if they want a posh wedding or a new arrival to be blessed or baptised.

So it's Low Sunday. And after the excitement of last week, the Church of England carries on. And somewhere in among the scrubbing of floors, the scribbling of sermons, fundraising and bad coffee, the arguing of choirs or the grumbling of vergers, somewhere in there - in Gospel and bread and wine, in the bodies of the worshippers and in those they serve -  Christ shows his wounds, and reveals he is alive.

Doreen opens the desk drawer, notices the chloroform bottle and the rag, and smiles slightly. Maybe she'll take Evensong tomorrow as well...

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From Amazon, Sarum Bookshop, The Bible Readers Fellowship and other good Christian bookshops. An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. By the creator of the Beaker Folk.


  1. Actually, within the Catholic Church, Anglicans *are* renowned for high levels of financial giving.

  2. Given the average stipend of a Catholic Priest about 8k I understand, the relative amounts of giving between Anglicans and Catholics can be judged.

    But Catholic giving is normally for Masses for the Dead or dear departed or Saints Days etc, which charge the coffers more than the collection plate.


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