The Reverend Brian Elshaw of Carshalton's All Angel's Parish Church is convinced that God has personally intervened to guide his hand, after delivering him from a fruitless attempt to secure an available username on an online clerical discussion group.
Reverend Elshaw told how as part of a campaign to supplement his stipend by cashing in on the lucrative book 'sound alike' market, with a volume thinly disguised as a drive to recruit young people into the clergy, he had hoped to canvas colleagues for amusing anecdotes with which to pad out ’Nifty Trades of Pray’.
“It was very frustrating” He said, “I'd read about the group in the diocesan journal and thought it would be the ideal place to find stories that I would give my book a bit of zest. You know the sort of thing, The organist mixing up the music and playing Barbers Adagio for Strings at a wedding, vergers getting caught in flagrante delicto behind the pulpit, light bondage in the vestry.”
He then continued.
“I went to the website and found the forum but it asked me to register before I could participate. The problem was that whenever I entered something in the box asking me for a user name it said that my choice was already taken. Over the course of the last few weeks I’ve tried almost every option imaginable. My own name of course and numerous variations. I've been through the Bible, dictionaries and several theasauri all to no avail.After a few too many sherries I’ve even tried words that would make a crack whore blush!”
Reverend Elshaw told how he eventually thought there could be a problem with his computer. A phone call to ‘PC World’ confirmed that there probably was. They advised him to pop into his local store and buy a new one, as they had 'some amazing deals on Macs at the moment'. It was en route to do this very thing that the reverend believes he was touched by the hand of God.
“I’d just gone to withdraw the money from the bank” he explained, “I remember how it was an overcast day. I was parking the car. Quite suddenly a shaft of bright sunlight broke through the clouds and there appeared before me a golden post box, glowing ethereally in a suffusion of heavenly radiance. Well I’d always remembered pillar boxes as being red. The golden colour immediately drew my attention, prompting me to recall how there had been a time when I would regularly correspond by writing letters and posting them into receptacles similar to the one which now stood before me. It hadn't occurred to me that the option still existed! It was shortly afterwards that realisation dawned on me. In creating and presenting a humble Church of England vicar with the inspirational vision of the golden mailbox, the Lord himself must have been showing me the way. I immediately texted my wife to tell her what had happened. Even as he provided me with a solution to my communication problems, the Almighty was instructing me to forsake instant contacts and honour the old ways." The reverend also noted that," This miraculous intervention means that God must actually be a literal being and not just a metaphor after all! That's quite a revelation for a modern Anglican let me tell you!”
As news of the miracle spread some Christian groups are seeing it as a sign of the imminent return of the Messiah, with many reports of gold mail boxes springing up, overnight, throughout Britain. The Carshalton box however, as the first to be recognised as a miracle, has rapidly become a place of pilgrimage for many different faiths.
A post office employee sent to freshen up the gold paint on the box told us:
“Yeah, since word got out about the Rev’s miracle we’re getting a lot of religious types turning up to see it. We had a couple of druids came for a look but it isn’t made of rock or wood, so they didn’t stay long. There’s been quite a few hindu’s and the like but mainly it’s the Catholics who’ve claimed it as their own, it being a miracle and all. They’re turning up by the coach load to touch the box or try and sit inside it . There’s quite a little industry built up around it with stalls selling plastic models, pictures and all sorts. It’s all giving the council's trading standards officers a real field day.”
A bit of tension has built up between Rev. Elshaw’s present employers , The Church of England, and the Catholic Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury's office refused to comment, saying that, as with their view of the Old Testament, they weren't really convinced that there was much to the story. The office of Archbishop Vincent Nichols, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England, was, however, more forthcoming confirming that as “we’re always in the market for a good miracle and anxious to grab back a few heretics to help ameliorate the sour taste the reformation left with us."
The Vatican have now placed Rev. Elshaw onto the holy father's dream team wish list, as a spokesnun revealed.
“We’ve opened transfer negotiations” she said, “We’re relaxing our usual conditions and dropping the 'must be dead' clause to offer immediate beatification as a sweetener. We’ve still got to iron out a few details regarding his views on the ordination of women and gay marriage but, just in case there are any persistent doctrinal disagreements, we’ve suggested that he tries to get another miracle under his belt. We thought that maybe he could try to convince that local girl who won the Olympic gold cycling medal to sit in the post box for a while. Jo Rowsell isn't it? If the Rev can deliver us two miracles in one lifetime we're not going to let Il Papa's edicts stand in the way of getting the guy on the team, come hell or high water. So, if sitting in a mailbox for an hour or two turns out to be a cure for alopecia: That's eventual sainthood, guaranteed. We’ve emailed the Rev our offer, so all he has to do to accept is register his details on the Vatican's faith transfer website at Iwanttobeasaint.com. He might have to persevere for a while though. Our I.T. department have told us that most possible usernames have already been claimed by someone called Anthony Blair, so if Reverend Elshaw can find one that's still available it really will be a miracle!”