‘More haste…!’

Dear Friends

Though I do say so myself our fish suppers at St Cliff’s take some beating (or should I say ‘battering’?) and what a joy it was when twenty souls with a penchant for Britain’s finest fare should grace us with their presence on the occasion of this week’s ever-popular Food ‘n’ Fellowship evening.

What I did not realise that was that our regular purveyors of fish and chips were unable to fulfil their monthly order (an ‘off’ jumbo sausage having unfortunately contaminated their prized batter) and that St Cliff’s Catering Committee therefore had little choice but to make an executive decision and to give our considerable business to their only rivals in the town.

That until now we have boycotted the somewhat inappropriately named, ‘The Piece of Cod’ will not surprise you but on this occasion it was a case of any port in a storm and expediency won the day.

The warmth of the evening necessitated the opening of windows which made the surreptitious disposal of the less-than-satisfactory fish suppers all too easy for our guests.

It was not until the next day that I discovered that the grounds of St Cliff’s were not only littered with numerous half-eaten cod portions but also an equal quantity of salivating cats.

I now think that I was perhaps a little hasty in purchasing something which I thought would ‘do the job’ of ridding the church’s hallowed precincts of this unexpected feline plague (not having the services of Moses to hand).

It would appear that I misunderstood the nature of the product and having sprinkled it liberally around the confines of St Cliff’s I was rather troubled to discover that the invasion of cats had significantly increased in number and not diminished as I had hoped.

I now find that ‘Go-Cat’ is in fact a food product and not something to send the pesky creatures packing.

Onward and upward



‘Let it snow!’

Dear friends

You may recall the unseemly local inter-denominational fracas that occurred a couple of Christmases back when it was every clergyman for himself in a bid to cream off the Christmas carol service trade.

You may also remember the desperate attempts by one particular ecclesiastical establishment who went so far as to employ the services of a certain Mr Cone (the local ice cream vendor who understandably has a rather lean time of it during the winter season) to announce over his speaker system (in strict rotation with his theme tune of Popeye the Sailor Man) which was the best church in town!

Having had a dressing down from the bishop for not being more ‘pushy’ when it came to promoting St Cliff’s festive offerings I hit upon what I considered a sure-fire way to pull in the punters this year and thus appease his ire.

In the process of my annual excursion into the musty manse loft to unearth our Christmas decorations I chanced upon a video marked ‘The Snowman’.

In no time at all the aforementioned popular animated production was whirring away in our trusty VHS player (my meagre stipend not being able to quite stretch to a DVD ‘upgrade’).

I will admit that the quality of the video left more than a little to be desired (it having being recorded by my good self from a Christmas televisual screening many moons ago).

I was a little unsure whether the unremitting (and somewhat irritating) snow effect overlaying the production was in fact intentional or simply the result of the video’s antiquity. That aside, it proved serendipitous, it being the catalyst for my veritable brainwave.

Unbeknownst to my fellow ministers in the town, a rather well-known female opera singer had moved into this fair parish of late and was offering her services (for free) as a way of getting getting to know the locals (and no doubt offloading a few more copies of her latest CD).

What a feather in my proverbial cap it would be if I could bag the diva in question to perform a rendition of the ‘chart-topping’ theme song to the The Snowman (the original performer’s voice no doubt having dropped a couple of octaves in the interim) as the finale to ‘Carols at St Cliff’s’.

To cut a long story short, I not only managed to secure the lady’s vocal services but on her arrival at St Cliff’s it appeared that she had ‘gone the extra mile’ and given herself a rather festive snow-covered look to get herself into the part (as I understand is the wont of theatrical types).

Amid the assembled throng of folk arriving for our festive soiree I loudly congratulated our guest soloist on being such a sport and gamely going for the snow effect on her hair and shoulders.

If I had but known that the copious white dusting that adorned her upper body owed nothing whatsoever to theatrical effect and everything to an unfortunate case of dandruff (a condition I now discover that she was rather sensitive about) I would have held my tongue.

That I did not is to be forever rued.

As the affronted singer turned on her heels and headed for the exit I clutched at straws and offered her the olive branch of a one-on-one session with a member of our prayer ministry team in the hope of perhaps resolving this unfortunate malady, but thus to no avail.

It was not without irony that at that particular moment the film’s final poignant image of the snowman melting into obscurity popped into my head.

How I wished, at that particular moment, that this had been in my gift also.

I fear that for the next twelve months, with regard to the bishop, I will not so much be ‘walking in the air’ (to quote the lyrics of the theme song to this now-tarnished production) but rather, walking on egg shells.

Let us hope and pray that the coming year does not begin as badly this one has ended.

Onward and upward


‘Oh Mother!’

Dear Friends

Mother’s Day fast approaches and I find that my sermon preparation for this annual fixture on the ecclesiastical calendar is laced with more than a little anxiety and much floor pacing.

That this day-long celebration of all things maternal should cast such a long shadow over my normally sanguine demeanour will no doubt surprise you. Should not a man of the cloth such as myself exist in a perpetual state of being ‘on top of the world’ to quote that catchy ditty by those paragons of popular music, The Carpenters (who, I gather, no longer grace the popular hit parade as much as one would like)?

In an ideal world the answer to such searching a question would indeed be a hearty affirmative except for the fact that on this occasion (and on too many other, I confess) I appear to fall foul of sound judgement and simply cannot seem to help myself in slipping into a default mode of, as the saying would have it, ‘putting my foot in it’.

My impending state of gloom and foreboding in respect of the looming spectre of this year’s Mothering Sunday is due in its entirety to my well-intentioned but ill-judged (with hindsight) attempt to capitalise on the reknown of that most famous of mums; Mary the (birth) mother of Jesus on the occasion of last year’s celebration of motherhood.

Had I had the good sense to but enlighten that veritable fount of wisdom, my good lady wife, as to my plans then the crisis that was wrought would probably been averted. In that I didn’t see fit to share my inspired sermon illustration with her prior to its disastrous launch is a decision to be forever rued.

I had cleverly (or so I thought) hit upon the idea of asking the children, on that fated day, to remain (or perhaps more accurately, to be restrained) in the service for an additional five minutes whilst I recounted the story of when Jesus asked his good friend John to look after his dear mother from that day hence.

And how better to bring this poignant scene to life than by myself taking the role of Jesus himself and employing the services of two of St Cliff’s regulars to play the parts of Mary and John. What could possibly go wrong?

As the service proceeded I had what can only described as an epiphany, though please don’t tell the bishop, he is a stickler for keeping to the aforementioned church calendar and any such mention of a juxtaposition of epiphany (the festival or otherwise) and Mothering Sunday could be enough to bring about a recurrence of his nervous tick.

(It was this unfortunate ailment that put on hold his attendance at the local auction rooms when one too many twitches of his head unwittingly purchased him job lots of house clearance paraphernalia and which also emptied his bank account in the process.)

Placed as if by some divine appointment on the front pew, beneath my very eyes, was none other than parish’s most fearsome of octogenarians, Mrs (Mary) Pilkington-Smythe and beside her, oblivious to the imminent trauma that was about to be visited upon him, Jonathan Biggins, about the most timid five year old you could ever expect to meet.

It is my heartfelt suspicion that Mrs Pilkington-Smythe was the inspiration for Roald Dahl’s terrifying Miss Trunchbull character which only compounds my dreadful decision to enlist this real life Mary and John into my biblical re-enactment.

My next precipitous move down this slippery slope was to quote Jesus’ very own words “Dear woman, here is your son” with as much Shakespearean gravitas as I could muster.

To everyone’s surprise Mrs Pilkington-Smythe promptly rose to her feet and embraced the quivering lad as a man-eating octopus might (if there is such fanciful creature) enclose its prey.

The alarm bells ringing in my head should have stopped me in my tracks and caused me to do some sort of audit of the repercussions of this enactment.

I did not. I was enjoying my moment in all its thespian glory.

“Son”, I continued in full Gielgudian flow “here is your mother”.

One can only but imagine that the terrified child thought that he had been put up for adoption with the ancient battleaxe and which is why to this day St Cliff’s, as gesture of remorse (chiefly on my part), is funding his weekly trauma counselling sessions.

Let us hope (and pray) that this Mother’s Day is less dramatic, in every sense.

Onward and upward


Spring has sprung (well, almost)!

Dear friends,

Not before time am I preparing to bid a none-too-fond farewell to the last vestiges of winter. Spring is most definitely in the air at St Cliff’s which, to tell the truth, is not the only thing.

It would certainly not even have required the services of a nasally enhanced bloodhound to have detected the disturbing aroma that has recently graced this hallowed building.

I was reliably informed that Mrs Bidmarsh and her cleaning ladies had given the pews the ‘once over’ with Mr Sheen or some such branded wood reviving agent in their usually quick-off-the-mark spring clean (it still being only January at present) but, as I suspected, what they intended to use and what they actually ended up coating our ecclesiastical leg rests with were not one and the same thing.

It was noticeable, last Sunday morning, that the usual high speed evacuation of St. Cliff’s sanctuary which typically proceeds my ‘that’s all folks’ benediction appeared to have been supernaturally put on hold as the entire congregation remained firmly seated as if secured to the pews by some unseen hand.

This perceptive diagnosis of mine was not as far off the mark as you might have imagined, when to everyone’s surprise (but my own who am well aware of the composite nature of the St. Cliff’s Cleaning Committee; they being either 100% dotty, blind as a bat or a frightening combination of both), that in fact the services of one Mr Sheen had never been employed in this comparatively simple task but rather one Mr SprayFix (patent pending), no less who, whilst displaying himself within the confines of (one has to in all fairness admit), a similarly shaped and coloured receptacle, did not confer upon our oaken heirlooms the hoped for result.

The next ten minutes were spent persuading Mr Potts, our duty deacon who had had the good fortune not to have been sitting down but instead standing at the back of the church (minding the entrance door against the unlikely sudden invasion from gatecrashers, the local criminal underworld or worse, in his doctrinally prejudiced book, charismatics), to put to one side his entrenched opinions on Sunday trading and to pop down the road to Fags and Mags forthwith to procure on behalf of the firmly fixed faithful, a dozen tins of lighter fuel which, when applied would hopefully guarantee their freedom.

The departure of Mr Potts was only finally secured and his conscience temporarily salved by reminding him that even Jesus sometimes ‘broke the rules’ on the Sabbath.

My conscience, on the other hand, still weighs rather heavy having found it necessary to dip into the offering plate to fund this initiative.

Onward and upward.



‘Across the pond!’

Dear Friends

It has often been an accusation thrust my way that I have a tendency to be a little naive when it comes to the ways of the world.

This tenet was proved true only the other day when my good lady wife, having without doubt taken the liberty to examine my healthy (and ever-increasing) list of companions on the Facebook internet portal, pointed out that I appeared to have attracted a considerable number of friends from across the pond.

Not being completely au fait with modern parlance I assumed that she was referring to the residents of Twilight Villas, the retirement home which stands imposingly at the opposite side of the stagnant and lifeless pool of water at the centre of our village.

I could not quite believe my good fortune that having traversed the ‘world wide super highway’ in pursuit of what I gather are known as ‘cyber’ friendships, lo and behold, I had those from among this number who were residing within my own fair parish, but a stone’s throw from the manse.

Such was my excitement at this epiphany that, although it was late in the evening, I sallied forth immediately to make myself known to them.

Feeling that this joyous occasion did not merit my usual my British reserve I knocked on the front door with such gusto you could have been forgiven for thinking that I was intending to break into the property forcibly.

In a matter of moments heads popped out of windows.

I do not know quite what came over me next, (put it down to my temporary exuberance) but throwing caution to the wind I blurted out loudly that if they opened the front door I had a treat in store for them, meaning our connection on the Facebook portal of course.

What I was unaware of was that the frail and timid folk at Twilight Villas had recently been warned not to open their door to strangers on the occasion of the looming Halloween festivities. This would not have been a problem had not one of their number been a little heavy-handed in turning over the pages of their communal calendar and thus unfortunately skipping over two full weeks. I say unfortunate because as far as the elderly residents were concerned the night I had chosen to call round, unannounced, was indeed the fated 31st of October, that night of unwanted and oft ghoulish visitors.

It was only when two gentlemen from the local constabulary arrived to ask for an explanation of my anti-social behaviour and why I had been intimidating the folk from the old people’s home that it began to dawn on me that perhaps there had been a crossed wire or two along the way.

That I had chosen to wear my black cape as a guard against the chill night air only increased the suspicions of these officers of the law that I was garbed as that fanged gentleman of cinematic fame and not as a man of the cloth as I repeatedly (and unsuccessfully) tried to persuade them.

Having returned to the manse under the cloud of their somewhat threat-laden warning that they “would be keeping an eye on me” I then discovered from my wife that I had got the wrong end of the proverbial stick (as usual) and that she was in fact referring to folk from the United States of America.

Whilst I do offer a heartfelt welcome to our distant cousins it is probably best that I restrict any future communication with your good selves to the medium of the internet.

I have had my fill of pastoral visits to my ‘online congregation’ for quite some time.

Onward and upward


‘Ghoul hash!’

Dear Friends

It would appear that I am at present suffering from a decidedly irritating condition affecting my feet that even the most eminent of chiropodists would find themselves stretched to the limits of their capabilities attempting to remedy. It is this. Whenever a situation presents itself through which I might achieve some brief moment of glory,  as surely as night follows day, I can be guaranteed to ‘put my foot in it’.

The opportunity to present a creative alternative to Halloween was uppermost in the minds of St Cliff’s Evangelism Committee when they proposed the tenuously titled ‘Hallo-lujah-een Party’ not only in a thinly veiled attempt to keep all potential trick and treating pranksters and egg throwers within the confines of the building (and not outside like last year where they ‘omeletted’ the front porch with enough eggs to give a vex a vegan). This situation was exacerbated by the surprisingly unseasonable tropical heat wave that visited the parish the very next morning and gave new meaning to the expression ‘high church’.

The lure of copious supplies of free food and Marvo – ‘it’s not magic, it’s just an illusion’ – the Christian conjuror did the trick, so to speak, and there probably wasn’t a home in the locale which wasn’t devoid of offspring for that particular evening.

I can only put what happened next down to the frivolous party atmosphere that filled St Cliff’s and, with all things going smoothly, I mischievously took my leave to play a prank on Mrs Willoughby who was, or so I thought, engaged in her weekly clean of the crypt.

Donning a somewhat ghoulish mask that I had confiscated from young Jason Potter who had planned to appear as a deformed shepherd in last year’s nativity, I hid behind a tombstone and prepared to pounce.

I did not have long to wait.

Footsteps on the stony floor were my signal, and with much ghostly relish I leapt to my feet with a wail that would have caused the infamous Hound of the Baskervilles to turn on its tail.

If only it had been a dog that I had nearly frightened the socks off, or even Mrs Willoughby.

Sadly it was neither.

Had I but even the faintest inkling that the verger would take it upon himself to give the assembled children a whirlwind tour of St Cliff’s while Marvo went to look for his missing white rabbit then I would have pulled the plug on my ghoulish enterprise poste haste.

This was not to be and I now fear that I will have to use our forthcoming Reconciliation Service to try to make my own peace with the parents of these traumatised youngsters.

Onward and upward


‘Our cup runneth over!’

Dear Friends

Our cup at St Cliff’s verily runneth over. What saintly task have we performed to have had bestowed upon us such an unwarranted blessing as this?

It is not every day that a celebrity will venture off the beaten track to somewhere like St Cliff’s and thus the imminent arrival of one Sir Cliff Richard, no less, to pair up with the bishop’s wife in the Annual Roof Fund Tennis Tournament has, it must be said, caused quite a stir.

I confess to not being ‘with it’ when it comes to popular music preferring the resonant tones of Mr Roger Whittaker, as a bit of a whistler myself, (much to the annoyance of my dear wife who, not being inclined to encourage my mastery of this most natural of musical instruments, has been known to rather unkindly compare my puckered offerings to the dying chorus of a marsh warbler) and am unsure as to whether today’s young folk are still tapping their toes to Mr Richard’s inspiring melodies.

I will dust off the stylus of my gramophone player and pay an exploratory visit to the local record emporium at the earliest opportunity lest I be accused of being out of touch with popular musical trends.

I have informed Mr Meridew, the groundsman at the Charles Darwin Memorial Recreation Ground (whose name, it must be said, was only tenuously arrived at by it being sited adjacent to the now defunct World of Finches bird outlet), that we wish to pre-book two concurrent sessions of tennis on Court One for the affixed day, recognising that sub-section two in the borough council’s Rules and Regulations For The Booking of Municipal Sports Facilities expressly forbids this.

In that, of all strange co-incidences, Mr Meridew in his youth played the lead in the Piddlingdale District Council Operatic Society’s rendition of Summer Holiday, an amicable resolve has been found to the offending piece of red tape which we have now satisfactorily bypassed.

This is all thanks to the promise of a signed copy of Mr Richard’s chart-topping ‘Devil Woman’ which the bishop’s wife inadvertently purchased at a WI bazaar two years previous. Whereupon realising what she had bought the flustered lady hastily locked it away in her spare room ready to be dealt with by the Diocesan Exorcism Committee the next time they met.

A rather unfortunate incident involving the Reverend Cribbins (the aforementioned committee’s chairman), the Parish Whist Society and a rogue pack of tarot cards (which were mistakenly dealt as playing cards) secured the Exorcism Committee’s prompt demise, preserving the personalised recording from rigorous scrutiny for traces of devilish back-tracking and thus releasing the piece of vinyl in question to be used as a gift to oil the wheels of bureaucracy.

Let us pray that the weather is kind to us when ‘Cliff’ descends upon us and that we are preserved from being overrun with screaming teeny boppers, which I gather are now the order of the day when it comes to popular music celebrities.

Onward and upward


‘It’s all in the delivery!’

Dear Friends

It is common knowledge, hereabouts, that the manse door is always open to those in need and the unfortunate tale I am about to tell (once again at my expense) is a case in point. Perhaps I should add a hasty caveat to the misguided notion of ‘open all hours’  by saying that following our ritual nightly mug of Horlicks (I trust that it is acceptable to promote one particular brand over another upon these airwaves) my good lady wife and I are often as not tucked up in bed by 9.30pm and thus assuredly not at liberty to take ‘callers’ from thence on.

That we should therefore be disturbed from our slumbers at 9.48pm precisely, (as noted by our SpongeBob SquarePants digital alarm clock – I  have not quite mastered the automated machines at the local Argos outlet and this was this the fruit of my ‘punching in’ an erroneous product code) by an unremitting loud rapping on our front door, was most irritating indeed.

On opening the door I was confronted by a rather angry female from Fedex, or so I believed. Not only was I rather taken aback by the late hour of her delivery (not that we were expecting anything, unless of course the good people at Argos had seen see fit to kindly rectify my error and supply me with the rather more conservative model of alarm clock that I had originally intended to purchase) but I quickly reasoned to myself that it was I who should be a little ‘angsty’ about this doorstep scenario and not her.

My demand that she proffer some form of ‘ID’ appeared to simply make matters worse. To boot, she did not seem to wielding anything that looked vaguely parcel-like in the least. Not that I think that anything she had been carrying would have survived the rigours of her fiercely clenched fist which looked uncomfortably primed for action.

It was only when I enquired as to what Fedex were doing at the manse at this late hour that things began to become a tad clearer.

It would seem that her fiance (Fred) had recently ‘got religion’ (or so she put it) after attending one of our popular ‘Pasta ‘n’ Praise’ evenings. Because of her unwillingness to respond to his entreaties to ‘turn or burn’ (I am a little unclear where he picked up this unhelpful jargon) he felt duty-bound to end their engagement forthwith. That their wedding was but two weeks away was the reason for Fred’s ex wedging open the front door of the manse and refusing to leave until her ire had been fully satisfied.

I fear that my offer of a complimentary ticket to next Monday’s next ‘Pasta ‘n’ Praise’ evening by way of compensation (we normally charge £1.50 I’ll have you know) did little to appease her nor my attempt to lighten things with a witty retort about her taking the UPS with the downs (UPS being the arch rival I believe of the aforementioned Fedex).

Onward and upward


‘I’m back!’

Dear friends

It has been a tad too long since I last ‘blogged’ but you will be pleased (I trust) to know that I am back.

I fear that the excuse I am about to proffer for my prolonged absence will appear somewhat lame, but I can only say it as it is.

My enforced ‘online exile’ was precipitated by an unfortunate incident at the outset of one particular Sunday morning service at St Cliff’s.

It is rare that we see fresh faces at our services but on this particular Sunday we were graced by a middle-aged couple who wasted no time in asking this and that about the church.

I felt that I wasn’t doing too badly until the gentleman slipped in what I considered was rather a ‘curved ball’, (considering that the clock was ticking inexorably towards our service ‘kick-off’ time) and it is more than my job is worth to be absent when Mrs Higginbottom, our erratic and tone deaf organist, strikes up for the opening hymn (or chorus, if I’m feeling brave).

The question my inquisitor asked was not one that I had ever expected to answer at St Cliff’s (if you know anything at all about the general lack of spiritual appetite resident within my flock) and I was thus theologically unprepared.

“What is your end time theology?”

This pertinent poser reminded me of an occasion early on in my Christian walk when a fellow enquired of me as to whether I was a Calvinist or an Arminian. Likewise, not having a clue at to what he was referring I retorted that I was in fact British (thinking that he was meaning Armenia, a mountainous country in the  South Caucasus region of Eurasia and I had not the foggiest what a Calvinist was).

In that I was ‘ready to roll’ for our morning service I delivered (unwisely) the first answer that popped into my head.

“Midday at the very latest I should imagine”, (thinking that he was referring to the finishing time of our service and not things pertaining to the ‘mark of the beast’ et al) “though sometimes we run a few minutes over if our organist loses the plot (a not uncommon occurrence) and adds a few additional verses to the last hymn, lack of words to accompany them not withstanding.”

Not only was my reply met with what appeared to me like a suppressed chuckle but to make matters worse I subsequently discovered that these incognito visitors were in fact ‘Mystery Worshippers’ reporting back to that comedic internet portal, Ship of Fools, no less.

Perhaps I would have been a little more on my guard had I but known that this was the case, but then again I supposed that is the whole point of this unofficial church OFSTED.

The icing on the cake to my embarrassing downfall was that the bishop just so happens to be a regular visitor to the aforementioned website and thus my gaffe was well and truly exposed.

That a church on his patch should be led by someone with such gaping hole in their theology was too much for him.

Having deduced that I perhaps spent more time ‘surfing the net’ than I did in sermon preparation I was summarily issued with a ‘’blogging’ ban until my biblical understanding of  the ‘last days’ was brought up to scratch.

I will admit that I did not take kindly to being presented with a copy of ‘Revelation for Dummies’, feeling it a tad patronising having successfully delivered many a sermon in my popular (with me at least) ‘Leviticus Highlights’ series.

The good news is that I now know my Amillenial from my Premillenial and I achieved full marks in the helpful test at the end of the book.

What I had not noticed was precisely how many questions the author of this handy tome had in fact concocted in the interests of slipping in (under the radar) a spot of cheeky ‘end time’ humour.

I am not sure whether I am to be applauded for attaining 666/666 or not!

Onward and upward


‘Let my people go!’

Dear friends

If you have travelled with me for any length of time on my journey along the World Wide Super Highway it will not have escaped your attention that my flock at St Cliff’s are not the world’s best when it comes to their ability to concentrate (and with particular reference to my sermons).

Having been the incumbent clergyman here for a fair few years now, it has been a heartfelt ambition of mine to encourage the ‘comatose faithful’ (as the bishop rather unkindly refers to my congregation) to dig a tad deeper when it comes to studying scripture and to ‘put away childish things’.

Having accepted the position at St Cliff’s (re-named in the ‘swinging 60s’ in a moment of madness after a popular Christian crooner of that era) it soon became clear that I had my work cut out if I wanted to be in with even half a chance of getting my flock out of spiritual nappies.

Thus, people falling asleep while I am speaking has not been an uncommon occurrence, but what I hadn’t previously experienced was yours truly nodding off during the course of one of my sermons!

This Sunday, just gone, I had been preaching from the book of Exodus on the enslavement of the Israelites. I will confess to having got rather bogged down with attempting to concoct a meaningful anagram from the initial letters of each pesky pestilence but (due to lack of vowels) found myself with something akin to a bad hand at Scrabble at best, or an unpronounceable Welsh place name at worst.

A combination of the warm summer air and the stupor that had come to rest between my befuddled ears as a result of my machinations sent me slipping gently into the proverbial Land of Nod.

I fear that I would have remained in that place of slumber right through Sunday lunch had I not succumbed to one of my recurrent snoring episodes (my good lady wife prefers to refer to them as her ‘cross which she must bear’) and abruptly startled myself back into the land of the living.

I can only assume that in that sleepy interlude I had begun to imagine myself as Moses himself and I awoke to find those immortal words “Let my people go!” passing loudly over my dribbly lips.

It was obvious that my congregation had not quite appreciated my exegesis on Exodus as much as I had thought they might and without a moments hesitation they responded to my Mosaic pronouncement with a hearty “Amen”, grabbed their personal belongings and raced for the exit, laying holding of their freedom in the manner of the aforementioned Israelites.

Glancing to the clock at the rear of the church I noted to my surprise that it was in fact midday (close of play for our services if you know what is good for you) and realised that I had been asleep longer than I had imagined.

Whilst I have no idea the precise length of time I remained in this slumbery state (nor what my flock were doing during this ‘down time’) one thing I am aware of is that as a result I had inadvertently committed the cardinal sin of all ministers – forgetting to pass the offering bags around.

With my congregation beating a hasty retreat (in the manner of the Israelites), and carrying  with them their cash (or Egyptian gold if you wish to continue the metaphor) it was apparent that I had missed the moment.

In that I have to meet with our terrifying treasurer (Mr Clench) first thing tomorrow morning to explain my fiscal failure I can but hope that I, like Moses, have a few tricks up my sleeve  to remind him who is in fact boss.

Onward and upward