In Mansfield Park Jane Austen describes a vicar as having “nothing to do but read the newspaper, watch the weather and quarrel with his wife”. Things have changed.

We are fortunate that we have in St John’s a number of lay people in church available to lead services and to preach. It is good for the congregation to have a change of perspective and a change of voice. And it is good for Raymond to have a week off from sermon preparation. However, a preacher is not necessarily going to be available on a particular week.

Holiday times are inevitably a problem. Now that Andrew is required to undergo treatment and Sally has moved on to her own parish, getting a Sunday off is not as easy as it used to be.

Sometimes it is possible to find people from other churches to celebrate communion or to preach. However, this issue gets quite acute in August when clergy with families or whose spouses work in education (which seems to be most clergy spouses!) all want to be away at the same time. So, after discussing this with the PCC and the Prayer and Worship Sub-Team, Raymond is trying something new this week. I don’t think you will be disappointed.