Thursday was housework day – my gorgeous, darling wife had decided that the house was terrible and needed work so we raced through the house, cleaning, polishing and vacuuming as went before we all collapsed in a heap with a cup of tea and a biscuit.
Thursday afternoon I visited a church member in hospital. The parking at hospital is appalling and I usually park down a side road… It seems most of the area decided to park down the side road as I ended up parking nearly a mile away! Still, it was a nice wander to the hospital in the drizzle.
As always, it ended in a big search for the ward I needed as the closer I got the less signs there were! 8, 9, 10 but no 11! After wandering up and down, I found the correct ward and had a lovely visit.
Friday saw me taking a funeral. A funeral of a church member in one of my village chapels. The church member in question had chosen all the readings and all the hymns and music. Her directions included the words NO SERMON! It made my task easier!
Seriously though, the chosen readings and hymns all put across the message of hope and joy that is rooted in the Gospel of Christ. The church member had done a wonderful job in preparing their funeral. It was such a privilege to lead.
Friday evening was Son #1’s football presentation which was a good evening. He received a trophy for taking part in the squad, as did all the squads. The rest of the trophies, managers choice etc, were reserved for the older squads so we left early and I was dropped off at a Circuit church to stay overnight with a colleague for the adventures of Saturday…
Saturday was the fruit of a random staff meeting when a colleague said, “I’ve had a great idea! We should do a prayer walk around the Circuit, praying in each church and promoting fairtrade!” I said to him, with a heavy dose of sarcasm and irony in my voice, “Sounds a great idea. Good luck with that!” and found myself as one of the three Circuit ministers to be signed up for the walk..!
We started at 8am at Church #1 and within 1 minute were reaching for the waterproofs as the heavens opened and we were blessed with abundant rain which lasted, more or less, until our arrival, 2 miles away at Church #2. Church #3 was only 1 miles further on before a 4 mile walk to Church #4, having to make it in time for a colleague who was involved in the walk to lead prayers at the start of the local Gala. Churches #5, #6, #7 and #8 followed in quick succession with distances between 1 and 2 miles and also lunch from Subway!
The worst leg was to come… It was 7.8 miles between Church #8 and #9… It was a nightmare. I was actually thinking murderous thoughts towards towards colleague who had suggested the walk and was marching ahead… Fed up, tired and aching and seeing a bus go past, every 20 minutes, to the village we were walking too… But spirits lightening quickly with the opening of the bag of Jelly Babies, I am easily bought!! We were blessed with tea at Church #9 – homemade soup, cheese, ham and lovely bread before our final walk to Church #10. Sadly, on the last mile blisters began popping and rearing their ugly heads. I hobbled the last mile – determined to accomplish the challenge.
We arrived in the final church to the congregation singing, “Jesus is seeking the wanderers yet, why do they roam?” it also included the words, “forgive and forget” which my colleague whose idea it was quickly pointed out! And yes, I did! I’d really had a blast!
So 27 miles done and dusted and I am so pleased with the achievement of having done it. I may be aching from the waist done, blistered on my feet and not able to wear shoes for long periods of time (led worship and communion in my socks this morning!) but I have deep sense of achievement that will last a long time. Praying in every church, met at every church with a warm welcome and a cup of tea was amazing.
A focus of the walk was for us to promote fair trade in all the churches and as I’ve reflected during the last 12 hours or so I quickly realised that the pain I feel in my legs must be nothing to pain of those who have to walk hours each and every day to find and carry back water of whatever quality.
Fair trade, to put it simply, is fantastic. Giving those who produce our food a decent wage for their efforts isn’t rocket science, but for so long it hasn’t been a part of our world trade. Not only does fair trade promise a proper wage, it also gives communities hope in the future as extra monies pay for schooling, medical care, safe water sources and an opportunity for life.
If you don’t buy fair trade products, think of one thing – tea, coffee, sugar, anything – that you can swop for a fair trade product and know that you are making a difference to the lives of farmers, their families and communities around the world.
Thanks for reading and sticking with this rambling blog!