Sunday, 30 November 2008

Advent and another donkey

Yesterday I was given a rather fine Jack donkey - about four inches high - 'to go in your new home'. It's of course a hand-painted model. Thanks, Jill. We're beginning to think about our move, though not, as some people suggest, as far as packing. Wow, this is an incredibly busy time in a church's life even without preparing for a change of vicar, and I am lucky just to keep up with the current week's agenda without some slippage. I am aware, though, of the sagacity of a good friend's advice to allow myself space in the next two months. It would be foolish to be so driven that we don't enjoy either Christmas or our last months in a place where we have been so happy.

We now have a lift installed in our new house, one of those smart through the floor jobbies, which by the way is monstrous. My first journey in it was... well, it didn't inspire confidence. We had a builder in to quote for a wet room; so I went with Jane to the house and tried it out. Going up was fine, once I got into the compartment. And it was fine when it came down, until it reached three foot off the floor, and then it stopped. Up and down I went but each time the same. Jane and the builder pushed buttons and knobs, and tried all the safety procedures Jane could remember. I thought I'd be going down the stairs on my backside, but by then the lift really had the heeby-jeebies, and the door wouldn't open. However then we discovered that if you kept the down button continually depressed the lift would move a couple of inches at a time, have a breather, and then move again. So I sat there with my finger on the button, while Jane and Jim went outside to talk about the ramp to the door. By the time they returned they could see halfway up my shins!

It was going to be a long descent. And then suddenly for no apparent reason it moved smoothly and I landed. It had taken about half an hour! I did consider naming and shaming the manufacturers in my widely read blog, if they didn't sort it. Instead we withheld payment, which seemed to have the desired effect. The engineers came out and fixed the wrinkles, and I'm looking forward to rising and falling with more discipline than the stock market.

Talking of which, today is Advent Sunday when we look forward to the return of Jesus Christ. (IFASCO.*) In a world of scarey events like the Mumbai terrorist attacks, global financial chaos and climate change, the promise is that things may fall apart but they are not out of control. Ultimately God has a plan, which is for a new creation where justice, harmony, health and life are uninterrupted and permanent. When Jesus talked about history, his predictions have proved extraordinarily accurate. And his prediction about universal terror was that it would end with his return and then the new order would start. Meanwhile he tells us not to drown our fears but to love (care for) each other - which sounds like getting in practice for the new world.

(*IFASCO. I'm indebted to my friend, Charles Patterson, for this timely warning: I Feel A Sermon Coming On, alerting listeners to switch off or on according to preference. Observant readers will notice it's an anagram of fiasco.)


  1. Hi Michael,
    Remember me? Having recently discovered your blog, I am finding it very funny and truly inspiring. I also enjoyed your book and have just ordered more copies to send to friends for Christmas. It shines through that you remain as considerate as ever.
    With great respect,
    Jane Atkinson

  2. Wow, Jane
    How amazing to hear from you! I've certainly never forgotten you. Thanks so much for your undeserved kind comment. It sounds as if you haven't changed. I'd love to catch up with your news, if you felt like it. We have a son who lives in Clifton, and has been a few times to Christ Church. Anyway, my email is Hoping to hear more.

  3. Hi Michael,

    Your account of the newly installed lift sounds quite challenging! I hope it does not rise and fall in future with such regularity that the stock market has in recent months.

    Clearly you do not intend letting the simple things of life get you down.

    Jenny experienced something similar in the new Holiday Inn she works in in Paris and thought she was stuck in the lift for the day until able to somehow summon help. In the event she had to clamber out between two floors. She experienced something similar at her new flat at Corbeille-Essonnes, but eventually got the lift to move after pressing buttons and turning keys.

    Returning to Holiday Inn, you would think such a going concern would not suffer such problems, but they do; in fact the run up to the official opening was strewn with problems, some of which seemed generated by workers who thought they might face unemployment when the contract ended!

    I do hope you enjoy the run up to Christmas, always my favourite time of year in church. We now feel we firmly belong to All Saints, Ecclesall.

    The change in life will no doubt seem a bit daunting, having said that, I firmly believe man was meant to keep active and I have no doubt you will remain so in as much as you can, even if some parts of the body appear to be closing down.

    Chris retires in two weeks, so the pace and pattern of life will no doubt change for us too. No longer will I have the free run of the house during the day! There could even be more accountability on the agenda!

    Coincidentally I heard last week of a former Scouting aquaintance who has returned to this country from Holland, having been diagnosed with MND.

    It seems that it is in the early stages as other Scouting friends in South Wales have met him since his return. I have spoken to him on the 'phone and from what he said it would seem he is quite positive and looks forward to his partner coming to live in this country soon.

    Regards to both you and Jane,

    Rob and Chris (Sheffield)

  4. Hi Rob

    Enjoy Advent too! Thanks for the details you sent about Eccleshall, and the card with the Stuart Townend song. That really touched me.

    Chris retiring! Actually, I imagine you'll enjoy spending more time together and being able to set your own agenda. The world's your oyster.

    I'm sorry to hear about your Scouting friend with MND. Being positive is the best approach, that and being prayed for.

    Blessings to your whole family.