Since the beginning of this new year, aided by the ‘Forward Planner’ in my new Church Book & Desk Diary 2015, I’ve been looking ahead at what is in store for me and what I want to achieve in the coming year. In the past, I’ve frequently not been the best at forward planning, so with the new year comes a determination to do better.
In particular, I’ve been trying to decide when I can and want to take my annual leave, allowing for Easter and Christmas when I have to be in Prague, weddings at which I have agreed to officiate, and the Eastern Archdeaconry Synod and the ICS Chaplains Conference, at which my attendance is expected. By the end of this week, I want to have something firmly booked and begin organising cover for the Sundays I’ll be away.
Apart from the obvious ongoing important task of leading, caring for, and seeking to grow, the Prague and Brno congregations, one goal I have set for myself, is completing writing my book, ‘How to be Czech’. This has been a work in progress for over a year, since I commenced working on the project in August 2013. One of my favourite mantras is, ‘If you aim at nothing, you’re certain to hit it’. Therefore I have set myself a deadline of the end of March, to complete the text.
Having written that and put it in the public domain, means I can be held to it. You read it here and therefore you can publicly rebuke me if I don’t hit my target!
I’m very much looking forward to this year’s ICS Chaplains Conference which will take place during the last week of April. This is for two reasons. The first is that, because I work in a very isolated situation, the opportunity of meeting with colleagues for fellowship and mutual support, combined with some theological input and teaching, is highly valuable.
The second is that the conference is being held at Elspeet, in the Netherlands. Despite being fairly well-travelled in Europe, surprisingly I’ve never previously visited the Netherlands. The added bonus is that to get there, will involve driving across some interesting parts of Germany that I’ve also never seen before.
Then at the end of September, the Eastern Archdeaconry Synod meeting will be held in Zagreb, capital of Croatia. As with the ICS Chaplains Conference, the Synod meeting is always a great opportunity for fellowship and mutual support. The theme of our time together this year, will be ‘Fresh Expressions of Church’ and how these might or might not work in our continental European context. That should certainly be stimulating.
Whilst I have previously been to Croatia in 2009, and also in 1975, when it was called Yugoslavia, I’ve never been to Zagreb, only along the Adriatic coast. So once more, some new sights and experiences await me.
For the first time in nearly seven years, at the beginning of June I will conduct a wedding according to the law of England and Wales. I’ve been invited by Adam, the long-standing best friend of my son Phillip, to officiate at his marriage to his fiancée Claire. The wedding is to take place in one of my former parishes in North Oxfordshire, where Adam’s parents still live. Guess who will be the best man? It should be quite an interesting as well as being an enjoyable experience 🙂
Being in the UK for Adam and Claire’s wedding, will be part of one week of my annual leave. I shall obviously be able to spend time with my son Phillip as part of the marital celebrations. But I will also take the opportunity to visit my daughter Christa, son-in-law Ian, together with my grandson Finley. I suspect the young man will have grown some more since this delightful photograph was taken three weeks ago.
With regard to weddings, I have one definite and two others awaiting confirmation, here in the Czech Republic. All are English-speaker marrying a Czech, and all are of the more common variety of English-speaking male marrying a Czech female 🙂 It is one of the great privileges of my vocation, to be part of people’s major life events, if you will forgive me using the language of sociologists 🙂
Taking all of these commitments into account, it looks as though the best time to take at least two weeks of my annual leave, will be in October, soon after I return from Zagreb. My intention whilst living in Prague, has always been that we should take advantage of our Central European location, to visit surrounding and nearby countries. High on my ‘bucket list’, (to use a very American expression 🙂 ), has been exploring Poland and the Baltic States. My plan this coming October, is to begin ticking those two off my ‘bucket list’.
Finally for this post, 2015 will see two significant anniversaries – one historical and one personal. Monday 6th July will be the six-hundredth anniversary of the martyrdom of the early Czech Church reformer, Jan Hus. Major events are being planned which are promised to be ‘friendly to English and German-speaking participants’ according to a publicity leaflet. Unfortunately, this website , to which the leaflet refers, is currently only in Czech 🙁 , whilst the second, just has a couple of articles in English though there are a few more in German.
A few days earlier, Wednesday 1st July will be the twenty-fifth anniversary of my ordination as a priest by the Rt Rev’d John B. Taylor, in the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban. I’m planning a little celebration for 28th June, which is the nearest Sunday to that significant date in my own personal journey of faith.