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A lot of stuff happening in the next little while which will necessitate a fair amount of time 'on the road' and a fair amount of that ministerial art of 'mood switching.'  When they teach you pastoral care skills they talk a lot about 'immediacy' and 'congruence' but far less about the need to adapt to the context  'chameleonism.'

This week is relentless meetings of one sort or another - a couple of local ones, a couple of Association ones and a national one, each very different and with equally diverse expectations; it promises to be a fun and busy week.  Next week is a first - I will conducting the funeral for one of my cousins who was younger than me.  I have always been a bit wary of 'intra-familial' undertaking, not least after attending the funeral of an atheist uncle around 25 years ago (which was just embarrassing, it was so bad; I was left feeling very sad for my dad whose brother it was) and when my sister took my grandmother's funeral a decade or so back and was left really drained with nowhere to grieve.  But this feels right somehow - I don't want to entrust my cousin, even though not someone I'd met very often, to a 'duty vicar' who will know nothing about the life they led or the dreams that are now forever lost.  It's not an objection to other ministers - goodness knows I do enough 'duty vicaring' myself - it's just a concern that it be done well, and in a way that the surviving siblings (along with my aunt & uncle) can own.  I realise that the stakes are so much higher for me than a 'duty vicar' who can simply walk away and be grumbled about ever after, and maybe there is a sense of this being the only thing I can do for someone who 'there but for the grace of God' go any of us.  It will be a little odd to swoop in to another county, picking up my mother en route, to an unfamiliar crematorium to conduct a funeral, not least as I can name a good four or five local minsters (Baptist and otherwise) who I know would do a fantastic job, but it feels right on this occasion that it be so.  SBJ 1967-2009 RIP.


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