RECTOR'S REPORT (1)
I wonder if anyone really expects a Rector to talk parish pump in an Annual Report for the year 2010, when that year involved six months away in England and Africa, remarriage and the attainment of retirement age. The year can be divided neatly into three. Preparing to go, being gone, coping with coming back!
Preparing to go was of course pleasurable because anticipation is as much an enjoyable part of any great event as the event’s actuality.
Being gone was wonderful in all sorts of ways not least because my treasured past, revisited in a nostalgia binge, took its sweet revenge by assuming marital proportions.
Coming back was a joy because Australia is a wonderful place to live and St Augustine’s is an appreciative family that it is good to be a part of and to show off to a new wife.
And that really is all I need to say.... except for this:
RECTOR'S REPORT (2)
Each year a Rector’s asked to give
an "Annual Report",
Which by and large is dull, immodest,
the sermonising sort.
Pretending that the parish grows,
and goes from strength to strength,
A lie the which to propagate
he'll go to any length.
In which himself he justifies
applauds, defends, excuses,
Laying any blame that's due
on others he accuses.
While he's a paragon of virtue,
who’s called by God to come
To be deferred to, preach and teach
(while idling on his bum).
Such reports are not my scene,
brute truth I much prefer
As anyone who reads my verse
would readily infer.
Here goes then! In the year that's past
our parish didn't grow.
We're where we were this time last year,
or very nearly so.
This isn't anybody's fault
unless of course it's mine,
For I have been at times too proud,
a far from fervent swine.
Though at my desk each morning early,
and hard at work by five
I later make my way to church
and prayers to say contrive
But while, at prayer, I’m more than prone
to wallow in self-doubt,
Or what’s far worse, scrawl evil verse
that’s far from being devout.
The hours I spend perfecting sermons,
elegant of phrase,
Are spent as much for Neaum's glory
as for his Maker's praise.
My pew sheets with their jokes and quotes
are made to make folk think
Of God! But also that I'm clever,
for which, of course, they stink.
My visits to the sick and dying
spring rightly from compassion,
But also of resented duty
there's far too good a ration.
A bible-study can be fun
though only as I do it.
In prospect and in preparation,
I shirk the task and rue it.
Although I love my faithful flock
and value and admire them
Should they, lukewarm, desert their Church
I want to roast and fry them,
To strike them from the parish roll
Frustrated rage is very much
an Andrew Neaumism!
Very far from organised,
a great procrastinator,
I push aside essential tasks
to do, too late, much later.
That most of you can tolerate
so fallible a swine,
Could indicate that you, perhaps
might share these sins of mine!
That I'm accepted as your priest
for being one of you,
No haloed saint without a taint,
but sinful just like you.
And thus my sins are turned to virtues
aligning me with you,
Which makes my priesthood empathetic
obliquely, oddly true.
Thank you then for granting me
So kind a contribution.
My sins being turned by you to good,
grant me absolution.