To the Town Hall tonight for a meeting of Reigate and Banstead Borough Council. I was one of two Holy Trinity members called into action at short notice... First substitution: The Mayor, Cllr Roger Newstead, had fallen ill and so called on his Deputy Mayor - and Holy Trinity member - Cllr Frank Kelly to chair tonight's meeting of the council. Second substitution: The Mayor's Chaplain also phoned in sick and - as if he hadn't got enough on his mind - Frank had to look for a quick replacement. So he called his Vicar.
My part was to open the meeting with 'a few words and a prayer'...
I chose to read from Luke 2:1-7, which sets the Christmas narrative in the rule of Caesar Augustus and 'Quirinius...governor of Syria' and sees the business of national and local government taking place as a census is called and people register for the gathering of taxes.
We prayed that the Council might be part of the greater purposes of God at work in the world, and that members might follow the example of his Son who exercised authority with gentleness and humility (symbolised by the manger).
The agenda was a packed one, with items on air pollution, the welcoming of Syrian refugees into the Borough, a draft policy on identifying land for building necessary new housing, an item on Boundary changes, and the delicate matter of Councillors' allowances. It was all conducted in a very civilised and generous spirited manner.
Frank did a sterling job - he was a very capable Chair and handled procedures with apparent ease. As Deputy Mayor, he has had a taste of life in the hot seat!
The evening ended with an invitation to mince pies and Christmas Carols in the Mayor's Chamber...though by the time I left, the singing had turned to 'On Ilkely Moor bah't 'at', which isn't very Reigate and Banstead.