I`ve just finished watching the last episode of the current season of the comedy programme, Rev (BBC2). I am aware that it has divided opinion but I personally think it is a brilliantly outstanding piece of writing captivating the humanness of being a Vicar (or in my case a Methodist Minister).

tonight’s episode especially dealt with the burden of `always being a Vicar` and `always being at everyone’s beck and call`. When Rev Smallbone has a spiritual crisis it shocks the people around him, “Vicars aren`t allowed to have a crisis !” Well, the reality is that we do get tired of always being nice, always having to say the right thing, always having to avoid saying what we really think and not being allowed the so-called vices that other people have such as smoking or drinking.

This can really be a lonely path and unless one has worn the dog collar then no-one can really understand it, but far from being a halo or a ring or confidence there are many times when the dog collar can feel like a noose around the neck.  These are the times when you get so frustrated with the petty triviality of Church life and you long for the meaty stuff of saving souls. Times when you want to tell people what you really think of their pettiness and attention to trivial, meaningless detail; times when you want to shout and rant and rave; times when you want to tell the world to `go away` but you feel (and do sometimes) use much stronger language than that ! 

The wonderful grittiness in the programme Rev, is shown in the way in which Rev Smallbone gradually descends into a rather pitiful character, but then it is turned around when the police (using an actor who used to be in the Bill) compel him to visit a dying parishioner who wants some comfort in her last hours. He does this and prays with her to the end. The final scene shot on the balcony of her flat shows him refusing alcohol and saying he`s alright, and you know in your heart of hearts that he is. His faith is restored by carrying out the very thing he was called to do by God.

I`m reminded of the story about John Wesley losing faith and the advice he was given……… “Preach faith and preach faith until you HAVE faith and when you have faith, preach faith” (very much paraphrased). As a Minister there are times when I feel just like that and the only thing that brings me through is by clinging to the certainty of my calling and simply keeping on at it, until the time comes when it is a joy again.

I`m so grateful to God for bestowing on my this wonderful calling, and that is genuine however, I`m not going to be naive or lie, and I recognise the fact that there are times when I`d rather be doing something else which allowed me to be a normal person. BUT by virtue of the calling I`m not nor ever will be a normal calling, and over the years I`ve learnt to move my moods of despair into a recognition that at some point I`ll come through the darkness and enjoy my calling again.

Just in case any of my readers are worried, I`m thoroughly enjoying life at the moment, so don`t worry. Rejoice instead !


Just got back from what was possibly one of the best holidays I`ve ever had. Alison and I, with our friends Alison and Stuart, went to stay at Denholm (near Hawick) on the Scottish borders. This was an area that I`ve never explored properly but found fascinating.

We managed to visit Melrose Abbey, Jedburgh Abbey, Kelso Abbey, Floors Castle (at Kelso), Edinburgh and a whole host of others places. We saw seals being fed in the sea at Eyemouth, walked the cliff edge at St. Abbs and I even preached at Hawick Congregational Church as their preacher was hospitalised. 

The people were very friendly; in the whole fortnight we only met three people who could be described as surly or downright miserable (one we dubbed “the beast of the borders”) and out of a fortnight’s stay that was good going. The people of Denholm especially were warm and welcoming, the food in the local pub was good especially on the night that someones napkin (left on another table) caught fire and we alerted the waitress to it ! I`ve never met such a village where it felt as though everyone wanted to say “Good morning” to you. Needless to say the beast of the borders didn`t live in Denholm.

And now its back to a mountain of e~mails, four services today (including baptism), and the countdown to the new circuit on Sept 1st with all of its accompanying preparation. Life is good and I praise the Lord for it all.

There may well be more reflection on the holiday over the next few days.

The picture is of Jedburgh Abbey.