Thursday, July 31, 2008


Having children ...

... tends - in our case, at least - to prevent one from over-indulging _too_ much of an evening, as you know you're likely to be up far too early in the morning, and, what's more, that you'll have to deal with them when they get up. Well, we all got up before 0700, as Ruth and James had to get away, but at least there were no loud children around.

Later on in the day, James very kindly walked me through the deacon's role at Holy Communion in Halstead, which is different to what I've done before. He's quite high church, and takes these things pretty seriously, so was a good teacher.

Forgot to post on yesterday's blog that both Ruth and James are planning to try out SecondLife. James has already popped in and has an av: Ruth not yet.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Friends over

(backposting) Tonight, James (the other curate at Halstead) and Ruth (his wife) came over for a barbecue. We'd already established that they'd stay over, so that everyone could have a drink or two. I did the food, they brought the booze. And we did have a drink. Or two. We had a very companionable evening, and ended up playing on the Wii (they're now thinking of getting one, and convincing Ruth's dad to get one as well), chatting and (in my case) playing and singing Finzi songs on the piano. Till far too late. But we had a lovely time, and it was good to have a break from work, which is pretty much all I've been doing this week, as the girls have been away.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008



Busy day, had a haircut, missing the girls. Oh, and I discovered that one of the bishops who attended our Lambeth conference gig has signed up for SecondLife. Go him!


Monday, July 28, 2008


Spiritual direction

I went to see my spiritual director today, and it was really good to have the time and opportunity to spend time talking through and thinking about what's been going on since the ordination. So, so many things. Much to reflect on.

Oh, and God's grace moved today. I can't really talk about it, but He answered a major prayer, so wow.


Sunday, July 27, 2008


Many things

First, did anyone notice how I managed to avoid the obvious "primates" gag yesterday, which would have revolved around the trips to the zoo and the Lambeth conference? I was quite proud of myself.

What else? Jo, Miri and Moo headed off to Kate and Mac's around 1330, and arrived around 1600. Dad and I had a good meal at the White Hart this evening. We'd taken Jo and Miri to the 1000 at St Andrew's, Halstead, and they did very well.

And after I'd failed miserably to record Top Gear this evening (not only the wrong times, but also the wrong channel...), I watched it on iPlayer. Very, very funny.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008


The zoo (and Lambeth)

(backposting) This morning, we went to one of our favourite places for the girls: Colchester Zoo. Dad came along as well, and we all had a good time. Miri's now at an age where she can start to enjoy the animals, and she seemed particularly interested in the sea lions and piglets.

In the afternoon, Dad and I drove down to the Lambeth Conference, taking place at the University of Kent's Canterbury campus. I managed to get online, and a good connection to SL, and then we headed off to get some supper. Gareth (also on the SL ministry team) and I passed over 50 flyers around different bishops at their supper tables: I've never seen so much episcopal purple in one place. Lots of senior people, including, I noticed, the bishop of Sudan, who's in the news at the moment.

Here's a couple of paragraphs I wrote today to be read out at one of the SecondLife Anglican Cathedral services today:

Last night, members of the ministry team had the opportunity to speak to attendees at the Lambeth Conference. Numbers were small - as for many of the fringe events - but discussion was committed and deeply thoughtful. I can report that the Anglican Church is taking us very seriously, as well as the opportunities for mission in other online media. We need to think hard about what kind of church we want to be, with what responsibilities and duties, but the Church is listening, and will continue to listen. The attendees were unanimous in their opinion that our mission is both truly Christian and vital to the Church's future.

We have lots of work to do: but it's God's work, and he will give us strength and guidance! Hallelujah!
I still need to do lots of thinking about what's come out of this, but it's very positive. Thanks be to God!

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Friday, July 25, 2008


Back home, and nervous

(backposting) Yes, getting a little nervous about tomorrow night: the presentation I'm giving tomorrow night at the Lambeth Conference. Got back home mid-morning, and Moo came back from seeing Victoria with the girls around lunchtime. In the afternoon, we popped to Sudbury to pick up my watch (strap still not fixed, after two weeks) and get a replacement part for the strimmer (no stockists in town).

My dad arrived before the girls went to bed, and, having offered to read Jo a story after her bath, promptly fell asleep in front of the television. Luckily, Jo thought it was hilarious. Dad's come over to share the driving to Lambeth, as he was worried that I'll be too jetlagged tomorrow, and I accepted his kind offer.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008


Back home

Well, it's been a very, very good visit to Mississauga, and I've got lots done. I've also had an opportunity to establish myself as someone with a bunch of different useful skills, and they're being used. In fact, that's the only real problem: I've got a list of 20 different tasks that I'm signed up for which aren't actually part of my core job. Having said that, my job description has changed somewhat as of this week (with my approval!), so that's partly dealt with.

I'm really looking forward to seeing Moo, Jo and Miri tomorrow: sadly they're away next week, but we'll manage somehow.

Anyway: a good week away.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008



Not mine. But someone who's very strong, usually, showed me a moment of possible despair. They didn't want anything more than a confirmation that things can get better, but I was immensely flattered that they felt they could drop their guard in front of me, just for a few seconds.

I don't know if they would have done the same if I didn't have "The Rev." as a title, and that's interesting, but I think it's the Christian commitment - and, hopefully, integrity - that was the more important factor.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Miri and the phone

(backposting) Miri loves phones. She'll pick them up, talk to them, hand them to you, take them back, talk some more, all of that. But when there's actually someone there, she seems entirely freaked by the whole business, and will just look at it in a slightly bemused fashion.

Today, she talked back. She seemed to realise it was me, and even responded to "kiss, kiss" (and a kissing noise from my end) by kissing the phone. In fact, she pretty much slobbered all over it, and Moo had to clean it afterwards, but it was really sweet. I remember when Jo suddenly seemed to get it, and it makes phoning home so much more rewarding.

A really busy day in Mississauga (my company's HQ) today, which is excellent, but tiring. I popped to a Mall in the evening, bought some books and some clothes (so cheap over here), some of which are presents for Moo and the girls. On the way back, witnessed an amazing thunderstorm in the distance, with ragged lightning across the sky: God works in truly fantastic ways.

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Monday, July 21, 2008



In Canada, about to go out for supper with my boss, which means that I can't just flob tonight. But should be OK. Good flight, got lost on the way to the office, drove on the wrong side of the road briefly. Nothing much to report, then...

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Sunday, July 20, 2008


I spy, with my little eye...

... something beginning with "buh" (me).
Bong? (Jo)
... something beginning with "cuh" (Moo)
Kraftwerk? (Jo)
(In fact, we suspect she said "craftwork", but we were both seriously impressed with our daughter's nascent musical interests.)

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Saturday, July 19, 2008


A miscellaneous day

Sennen came over for the morning, and he went with Jo to ballet and tap, though he sat most of it out, in the end. Trip to the park with him, Grenville (his Dad, who turned up for lunch - including strawberries!), Jo and Miri. Quite a lazy day, to the extent that you can be lazy with two 3 year olds and a 1 year old. Miri said "bread" and "lady" for the first times today. And I've got started on a presentation on Web 2.0 and SecondLife for the Lambeth Conference. And I've got a SecondLife meeting about it with the ministry team of the Anglican Cathedral there.

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Friday, July 18, 2008


Busy, busy

I'm off to Canada on Monday, and I had a lot of work to get done before the end of today. And I managed it.


Thursday, July 17, 2008



(backposting) Jo was up at 0345, and I didn't get back to sleep before 0430, when I got up to drive to Gosfield for a cooked breakfast with Geoff, after which we picked up John and drove to Ebbsfleet International. There we met Viv, James, Ruth (his wife), Clifford and Anne (his wife). We got to Paris, and did the OpenTour bus ride around the city. We ate and drank (twice, with less drinking the second time), and got to know each other better than we had before. I spent lots of time talking to people, particularly Ruth and Geoff, and on the way back in the car, Geoff, John and I had some very interesting discussions on some major theological and pastoral issues, including: I had a very interesting time, but the highlights of the day for me were trips to Notre Dame de Paris and the Memorial de la Déportation. I rather dragooned people into going to this, as none of them had been there before. People don't seem to know it: for me, it's a must-see when visiting Paris. It's very affecting, and I cried, as I think I have on each occasion I've been there. Notre Dame, which we did immediately afterwards, was hardly less emotional for me. Although it was very busy, there's an oasis of calm in the middle, and I also joined a little service in the Lady Chapel at the East end. I've never said the Ave Maria that many times before, even if it was in French. Does that count?

Slept a little on the train back, and got home around 0020.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Toyboys - or Tomboys?

I went to my first deanery chapter meeting today. I should probably explain. The deanery chapter is where all the priests and the deacons from the deanery get together to chat, discuss issues, and generally bring up whatever they want. There are 13 clergy in our deanery (Hinckford), though only 6 of us made it. We went to a pub (The Lion) in Earls Colne, and ate outside. I met Margaret and Janet, who'd I'd not met before, and although we spent some important time discussing some pastoral issues - personal and parish - it was the downtime together that was just as important.

Lots of laughter and joking, teasing and fun. There was the discussion about whether Viv would like a tomboy. I meant toyboy - but it was particularly funny in light of the earlier chat about homosexuality in the Church of England.

It was a good, light-hearted lunch - I don't know how it would have been with more people (and different people) - and I must make sure I make it to these meetings as often as possible.

Miri's at the "no!" stage, but it's mainly aimed at the dog. Oh, and "shh!", with her index finger right up the side of her nose: again, mainly to the dog.

She's a lovely thing, and I wish she'd not taken about an hour and a half to go to sleep when she came into my bed in the middle of last night.

But Moo's home today.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Hard day

Had a supervision at lunch, which went well, but other than that, it's been a hard, pretty tiring day trying to get some pretty technical bits and pieces sorted. Partition sizes, Clonezilla (which looks like it's going to rock, once I've got a sensible partition table to try it on), and the rest. Tired.

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Monday, July 14, 2008


Being set apart

First - and briefly - Moo's off to Birmingham for a few days, and had to get up at 0500. So I took Miri into bed when she got up around 1200, and she took nearly an hour to get to sleep. She woke up at 0555, but Jo managed 0710: a real sleep in.

Second - and the main point that I wanted to make - is the question of what it is to be set apart. To agree to be set apart, and to accept one's vocation. I'm not pretending that I'm special: in many ways, quite the opposite. It's about accepting the fact that I'm not any different to anyone else. The vocation is partly to a realisation of brokenness and an acceptance of it. And I'm really surprised how different things feel since ordination. I really didn't expect that to be the case, but I'm constantly surprised by how different things feel, and how much I think about what I do, and also how it might appear to other people. But I'm also struggling with the fact that I'm not taking on the full-time ministry, and I didn't think I would.

It's not that it feels wrong not to have done so, but in many ways, it feels like it would have been easier to accept a full-time vocation. That way, I'd know what I was committing to, how my time would be taken up, who I am, and how I would appear. Being out of clerical dress would be a unusual, and being in "mufti" the abnormal. But putting on clerical dress is "special", and the decision to do so says quite a lot, just in itself. And deciding to wear other dress where people might expect me to more "clerical" is a decision, too.

I'll keep thinking, and writing. And praying.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008


My first "talk" as a deacon

(backposting) At Earl's Colne, this morning for an 0800 Communion, and then a 1000 Family Service. Both went well, and I gave the talk at the Family Service. It was on the parable of the Sower, and we were giving out seed corn to plant. I took some photos, and found some online, which I used as part of the talk, as there's a projector and Powerpoint available. I was quite pleased with how it went: I'd been touched by the place of the Sower on preparing for the talk. Usually, I've identified with the seed, rather than the Sower, but I concentrated on the responsibility to sow this time.

After I got back, we all went to the Clare fair/fete. We went last year, and Jo got her face painted then, too. And chose the same design! Doughnuts, ice cream... And after that, swimming. Jo did some great swimming, and I was very proud.

Now, if only the girls would get to bed quicker. And not get up in the middle of the night...


Saturday, July 12, 2008


Being a proper clergyman (-person)

(backposting) Today I went to my first flower festival as a member of clergy. It was in Halstead church, and it was good - partly because there was good cake. I went in jeans, a hooded top, and a clerical shirt. I'm taking the view that, unless it's something special, it most honest to who I am - and therefore those around me, my family and God, to be and wear what I would otherwise - with a clerical shirt and collar. James took me for a bit of tour of the church, including going all the way up to the top of the tower. I'm not a big fan of heights, and struggled a couple of times, but it was a great view from the top. Halstead apparently has about 11,000 people - doubled over the past 10 years or so - and you could see most of the town from the top of the tower.

I got back home just after Moo and the girls, having been button-holed in the butcher's in Sible Hedingham. That's part of the deal, really, and fine.

Lovely to see the girls.

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Friday, July 11, 2008


Girls away

(backposting) Today, Moo took the girls to see Kirsty in Cambridge. I was privy to the further plan, though: to go on to London for Turtle's 5th birthday party. Turtle is Jo's cousin - Jen and Jake's youngest - and Jo loves her very, very much indeed. Jo slept some of the way, and realised as they got to Dulwich that they were going to Turtle's house. She then got stressed, on realising that it was a fairy party, that she didn't have an outfit. When Moo told her that she'd packed both girls an outfit, there was much relief, and Jo came out with the lovely phrase, "Mummy, what would I do without you?"

They were going to come back tonight, but to my great unsurprise, Moo decided to stay, which I think was the right decision. I went out to meet James - the other curate at Halstead - and his wife, Ruth, who'd I not really met before. It was my first - but probably not my last - trip to a pub in a dog collar (it was me in the dog collar, not the pub, in case you're reading this, Gary). It felt a little uncomfortable, to be honest, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.

I also met John and Mo, who are back from Africa, and seem to have had a good time.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008


Psalm 55:12-14

I hope that this quote wasn't aimed at me personally, though maybe it was:
 12 If an enemy were insulting me,
       I could endure it;
       if a foe were raising himself against me,
       I could hide from him.

 13 But it is you, a man like myself,
       my companion, my close friend,

 14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
       as we walked with the throng at the house of God.
It came at the end of a comment by Simon on my entry for Tuesday. I'm also not sure whether the phrase "A very clever - if utterly dishonest - piece of spin" was aimed at me personally, though maybe that was, too.

I wasn't intending to spin. I've not caught much of the coverage. The quote I used was the first relevant one from Rowan that I could find. And maybe my post came over as too triumphalist.

But what I'm really feeling, deepest down, is joy. I truly believe that woman's ministry - women's full ministry, as lay people, deacons, priests, bishops and, yes, archbishops - is equal to that of men's in the eyes of the Holy Spirit. And I mourn for those who feel betrayed, and shut out, and for friends, in particular, who feel that way. But those who feel that they have been institutionally excluded, and their ministry belittled, and ignored, and spat upon, have a right to feel joy. And I hope that none of that joy is the perverted joy of seeing ones opponents downtrodden, because that's not what Christ taught us. I certainly don't feel that way.

I say again - I've not caught much of this. I wasn't there. I can't talk about people baying for blood. But I do know a number of people - more men than women - who have worked for this for years, because they believe so strongly, and theologically, that it is the right thing.

Simon - and all those who feel that we, and I personally, have played the part of Judas (as that section from Psalm 55 is often read) - I pray that we can find a way to walk together. Please remember what we have shared together. And I ask your forgiveness.


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Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Showing the Methodists how it's done

I have some extremely good friends who are Methodists (particularly Sally and Sarah), and it occurred to me last night that we've really shown them how it's done, now that the Church of England has approved women bishops. Think about it: the Methodists don't even have _male_ bishops, let alone female ones, so they're well behind in the equality stakes.

Go Anglicanism...

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Women bishops: yay! Maybe another 13 years of marriage, too

Rowan Williams said: "I am deeply unhappy with any scheme or any solution to this which ends up, as it were, structurally humiliating women who might be nominated to the episcopate." The General Synod voted "for". This means that we're going to have women bishops in the Church of England. And no "super-bishops", as the BBC puts it. A Code of Practice for people who won't accept this.

Given Moo's views on this, this means that there's a decent chance that we'll manage another 13 years of marriage: we were married in King's College Chapel on the 8th July 1995. She's pleased, as am I. Oh - I meant about women bishops, though I think we're both pleased about 13 years of marriage.

This particular entry isn't going very well, but that's mainly because we're watching Series 1 of Peep Show, which I got Moo as a present. And I've been laughing too much.

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Monday, July 07, 2008



A frustrating day. My old laptop just won't cut the mustard for the testing I need to do, I discovered around noon. So I went to PC World in Colchester to price up a new machine. Got that done by around 1330. Sent off emails asking for approval to buy it. Did some phoning, come 1420. People out of the office, on holiday, etc.. In the end, got the machine approved, bought it, installed it, etc.. Nice piece of kit. Pity that the license key I have for the software I need to install doesn't seem to work on 64bit systems. Aaaaaaaaaaargh. Trying to sort this now.

The other frustration's of a very different kind, and revolves round really not knowing how the very important vote on women bishops is going in the General Synod. There are various blogs, but I'm having problems working out exactly what amendments are good or bad, and where they're going. The main question seems to be about whether there will be legal provision to help those who aren't in agreement: in other words, enshrining discriminatory practice in law. It seems that the bishops and clergy (who make up two sets of constituents) are more progressive, on the whole, than the laity (who make up the 3rd set). We'll see. And pray, of course.

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Sunday, July 06, 2008


My first services

Today, I performed the services of a deacon for the first time as a member of the clergy. I deaconed at the 0800 at Colne Engaine church (BCP communion), and made my Affirmation of Assent (telling everybody that I believe the right stuff and will do as I'm told) at the 1000 Family Service at the same church. Viv was very supportive and helpful, and it was a joy. I was nervous, but it felt right, too.

Moo brought the girls to the second service, which I was very pleased about. It was hard for her, though, as Jo wanted to go to the swings that were near the carpark, and let Moo know about it throughout the service. And I had to stay afterwards for tea/coffee and cakes (we are CofE, after all), and couldn't be with them, which was also hard, so it wasn't perfect, but I was so happy they were there.

When I got back, the girls were asleep in the car (not Moo!), so I took over while Moo made me a cup of tea. I'd not had the opportunity to say Morning Prayer yet, so I said it in the car, and then had a bit of a sleep.

After more play with the girls (Moo elected to have a tidy and hoover, leaving me with them - though I offered), we all went swimming. Then waffles for supper, then bath and bed. Miri took 5 minutes, Jo over 50. Not good. But it gave me a chance to cook a large chicken, and we even had gravy with it. Whilst I was cooking, my mate Gary called for a chat. He was ordained today, and I'd left a message for him yesterday. Good to chat, and he had some good stories to tell. Really, really good to hear from him, despite the fact that he's from the Other Place.

I'm going to keep this entry open until someone wins the Wimbledon Men's Final. Assuming that's tonight...

And it's Nadal! What a match.

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Saturday, July 05, 2008



(backposting) What do about having a picnic you'd planned when it turns out to be raining? You lay something on the sitting room floor and sit down and have it there. This turns out to be almost as much a treat for a 3 year old as a real picnic, so we were fine there. Earlier, Moo had taken Jo to ballet (which she loves), and I'd looked after Miri, cleared the kitchen (not cleaned it - don't be silly) and groomed part of the dog (with a bit of help from a 14 month old). We then had to go to Clare, as I needed to get a refill for the barbecue gas canister. It turns out that if you leave the valve on the canister open, and one the controls "on" (even unlit), all of the gas goes out of the canister. This is a useful lesson to learn.

A bit about Miri and Jo. Jo has recently taken to lots of imaginative play, making houses and dens in her and Miri's bedrooms, being a big sister (and forcing me or Moo to be younger siblings or cousins), etc.. The best thing about this is that she will include Miri: in fact, Miri doesn't have much of a choice about this. And Jo now has enough awareness of other people to know what she needs to do to keep Miri happy, so they're both enjoying themselves. Miri, as well as playing along a little, has developed her linguistic skills immensely of late. Not only is she beginning to parrot words back at you, particularly if you repeat them several times, but she really knows what's going on. You can give her fairly complex commands ("Miri, please go to Mummy and take the toothbrush"), which she'll carry out flawlessly (if she can be bothered). She loves books, and can identify and point to a variety of different objects and animals if asked. Lots more than you might expect. We're just waiting for her to decide to speak properly, but she's pretty good at telling you what she wants or needs, from holding a spoon to feed herself to wanting her shoes and socks taken off (and promptly put back on).

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Friday, July 04, 2008


Church Times

Oh - one last thing. My mate Neil-Allan Walsh is depicted in the Church Times giving the Bishop of Chelmsford bunny ears in a photo. I think the bishop will find it funny. I _hope_ the bishop will find it funny...

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Gays, women and evolution

Drove into Cambridge today to buy a book about Windows 2003. Very big, very heavy book. Looks useful, though. Lots of work in the afternoon on Windows stuff and Xen, which I've decided to try out.

During the day, had a discussion on a mailing list I'm part of (hi, guys) about the Church. Why does everyone believe that the Church is backward-looking, reactionary and bigoted? That seems to be the set of messages that everyone picks up. So, questions ranged from whether women should be priests, to my views on homosexuality (I'm for it ;-)), to the virgin birth, to whether I believe in evolution (well, of course I do - d'oh!). It's good to have the opportunity to talk about this stuff with people, and I firmly believe that it's an important part of my calling. When I first felt the vocation, part of it was the question "if you were you, but not part of this Church, would you want to be part of it?" The obvious answer is, "no". And the obvious second part of that is, "well, go and do something about it then." That's what I'm trying to do.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008



(backposting) Did some expenses today. And discovered that work can't find the receipts I sent for a set for over £175, so don't want to pay them. I'm working on this...

The really bad news - on top of this - is that I've picked a very, very short straw. We need to harden a Windows 2003 system, and I'm in charge of writing the policies and procedures for hardening our Linux systems, surely I'm the person to do the Windows one, too? So the thinking goes. Oh well.

Ironed for a couple of hours tonight. Felt virtuous and achy.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008


And back home

Got Kate's router sorted nice and early, did some work at her house (the wonders of laptops) and headed home to complete my work day. Pretty tired, but happy to have done my bit.

We've rented Peter's Friends to watch on DVD, which I've not seen for ages, so hopefully I can do some ironing in front of the TV tonight.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008



(backposting) Today was my first church engagement since ordination: a Area Team Meeting, held in Halstead. I went to a service of Holy Communion in the church first, with just me, James (the other curate, presiding) and one of the people going to the meeting. So, "when two or three are gathered in my name", indeed. A lovely, intimate service: it made me think about how I'll be taking communion services in a year's time.

The meeting went on till 2115, and then I drove up to Loughborough. This is service. My mother-in-law's ADSL router had died, and she really needs to have Internet access for some work she does. Moo and I looked at possible dates to go up, but decided that just doing it might make most sense. So, I left the Halstead around 2130, and got to East Leake around 2345: a good, fast trip. Said the evening office, had a glass and a half of wine, and went to bed.

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