And on the Sunday Next Before Advent there is a great census in the Scottish Episcopal Church. We need to start counting them. Male and Female we must count, and all the other stuff too. Returns have to be made and they are due in mid-December. Advent, when we are distracted by other thingies!
As a young priest I was very diligent, and my returns must always have been the first in. As I get older, they cease to become a priority and become a chore.
In saying this, there is no excuse! I am shamed that the Diocesan Centre has to call me in February to tell me I'm dead if my returns are not in today at 9am. I am still alive!
Why? Every year I swear that I'll do the damned counting in December. Why do I put it off, except for the fact that I'm the world's greatest procrastinator?
I just did my numbers and they were OK, but there is a fear in numbers, because they can indicate you are failing or somehow not up to the mark.
It's a very competitive thing this ministry. I know clergy who host all sorts of things on the Sunday Next Before Advent to boost their numbers. Why? Because we need to be seen to be successful? Or is it that we don't want others to see that there might be a bit of something lacking in our ministry if the church isn't full to bursting in a bad Sunday in November?
Numbers. Numbers. I blame St Luke for starting it all off. We are obsessed with numbers.
However, during my years and 30+ returns, I see a new obsession. That is gender audit. I'll be very non PC and say that I don't care much for it. We are the People of God and I don't really care if you are male or female or transsexual. You are just one of the number! The congregation are just glad you are here, male or female.
Gender obsession should have no part in our church life. We are simply all followers of the Christ, and I don't really care about your gender. Neither does Jesus.