This is my week. I will take worship, leading a parish communion service and baptising a child in front of a packed church. I will liaise with the musicians, the welcome team and the readers to ensure the service proceeds like clockwork (which it does, to my slight surprise). I will light the Pentecost flame, which I have previously ordered, tested and risk assessed. I will ensure a competent person is in charge of the correct fire extinguisher and that nobody strays into its path. I will preach the sermon I have written, after much thought, and the service will include singing words I have composed. I will be greeter, listener, friend, leader and mentor and perhaps hate figure to some. I will ensure there are copies of the liturgy in a clear, readable and accessible format, with large-print versions available for those who need them. I will fill out the Baptism Register and certificates for godparents and the child.
I will attend an evening concert by a visiting choir and chat over supper afterwards. If you are what you eat, I am 90% quiche.
I will make the tea and buy the biscuits and lead the bible study evening at my house, after a quick tidy up.
I will do all the work involved in supporting a family in grief and taking a funeral service.
I will teach the local primary school children about Holy Communion and present them with new concepts and new ideas about joy and thanksgiving, explaining some of the many layers of symbolism and the biblical narrative along the way.
I will visit someone who has not long for this world and offer all the support I can, leaving them with my blessing and my prayers.
I will attend a briefing on schools performance management. I will handle a baptism records search, attend the Chapter meeting of local clergy and take communion to a housebound lady. I will nip to the stationers to buy posh paper for the service orders and stickers for the children. I will read the stuff about church politics and I will go through the lectionary identifying worship themes so we can draw up a rota. I will fill in a grant application and answer a pile of emails.
That’s half my working week - I am "only part-time". The other half is spent in chaplaincy at a local youth offending institution – demanding ministry indeed which draws on all my priestly skills.
And by the way, I will love and tend my family. Oh, and the socking great Vicarage garden may get a little attention. And my personal prayer and meditation will happen – somehow.
All this I do gladly. I love my job and I have a sense, at last, of vocation fulfilled. I know I burn the candle at both ends, and I have to manage my stress levels, but it is the most fulfilling work I have ever done. If I were not called to do this work, I could not possibly do it. I can do this because I am loved and supported by God, my church and my family.
How can anyone say I shouldn’t be doing this because I am a woman? Where is the relevance?
How DARE anyone say that we are second-class priests, not fit to be bishops?