One of the things I am very bad at is preparing rotas. A member of the congregation noticed this (OK, most members of all of the congregations noticed this) and offered to prepare the rotas for me. I was wary. Part of the stress of doing it is in remembering the little things that are hidden, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to bring them to light. But I braved it out and produced a long set of instructions which included things like:
- don’t put pairs of people on together (husband & wife, best friends…)
- make sure the person who hates a particular type of service and who is not always able to come to church is not forced to come for the service (s)he hates…
- don’t put lay team members in prominent rolls the weeks before or after they preach
- if it’s a lay led service, make sure someone ‘else’ (neither lay team, nor their closest friends) is on readings.
- try to balance old members and new, draw from a range of ‘groups’ in the congregation, keep mixing things up as much as possible.
And then I set her free to juggle names, with the one last warning that she should leave all major festivals blank so that I could sort out Christmas once I knew who would be active in the Advent Carol Service.
The person did admirably, and had the grace to admit that she now understands why rotas drive me crazy.
But as I looked at the list and changed the last few reading for February since Lent had crept up sooner than usual, I remembered another reason I hate rotas.
There, on two sides of A4 was the reminder that it is not only long nights, AGMs and Advent which are fast approaching, but the marathon that is Advent-Christmas-Epiphany-Candlemas-Lent-Easter- Pentecost.
It is all one this year. The wax will hardly be set on the newly blessed candles before room fills with the smoke of burning ash. And then, at the end of it all, and endless sea of green.
Lord have mercy.