Mortimer Benefice

The Benefice Office can be contacted on 01189333704 from 9am to 12 noon Monday to Friday. Outside of those hours, please leave a message or send an email to and we will respond as soon as possible.

For urgent matters please telephone Fr Paul Chaplin, The Vicar 01189 331 718.

At the time of the Coronavirus the Church's ministry here continues daily through prayer and online and over the telephone.



SUNDAYS FROM 11.00 am to 12 NOON




All Covid 19 safeguarding precautions must be adhered to carefully.

Welcome to Join in Stratfield Mortimer, Mortimer West End and Padworth

Online Morning and Night Prayer

9 am & 9 pm


The Benefice is live-streaming services via Zoom.

Parish Morning Prayer at 9 am & Night Prayer at 9 pm Monday to Friday.

Parish Sunday Eucharist at 10 am each Sunday

The Zoom link for all services is

The invitation to join with the Parish church here in Morning and Night prayer is an invitation to make a 'sacred’ space and time in our day to pause to reflect and pray together with the help and guidance of scripture and to pray together with one heart and mind. Fr Paul Chaplin


If you would like to speak with a priest in complete confidence telephone the Vicar, Fr. Paul Chaplin – 01189 331718

To be kept informed of services and events around the benefice, please complete the form to be found at the following link. Please complete this form.

'It is not an acceptable human response, let alone a leadership response to say "I have heard about a problem, but… it was someone else's job to report it /act”’ The Archbishop of Canterbury

Weekly Newsletter

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View the latest weekly newsletter below.

Weekly Newsletter 27th September to 4th October 2020

The Sunday Link 27th September 2020



Please join to celebrate and give thanks

at the Mortimer, MWE & Padworth Parish Eucharist

on Sunday 27th September 2020 at 10.00 am

at St John’s Church, Mortimer,

& online at ZOOM

If you have zoom difficulties please contact the tech. team at 01189333136




Prayer Thought: Jesus’ parable about two sons who don’t do what they say reveals surprises about the most unlikely people who actually do God’s will and serve others and thereby go ahead of the rest into God’s kingdom. St Paul encourages us to look to Christ as our model of humility and service and, like Jesus, look to the needs and interests of others above our own. St Paul urges us to look to find the nourishment we need in the broken bread and shared cup which gives strength to respond to Christ’s call and to offer our lives for the sake of our needy world.

Reflections on this week’s Gospel passage…

At the end of this week’s Gospel is a story to which every child, and everyone who ever was a child, and all parents can relate. How often when children are asked by their parents to do chores do we hear in their response echoes of the same inner and outer conflict expressed in Jesus’ parable of the two sons and their father. It’s the conflict between obedience and rebellion; it’s the conflict between recognizing what needs to be done and yet resenting authority; resenting not being autonomous and completely free to do whatever I choose and when I choose; and to do things my own way. It’s the conflict which arises in us when we hear a voice calling to us beyond our own inner voice and recognize that if we are to do wholeheartedly what we are being called to do then that will, inevitably, constrain and shape our own inner desires and our will.

The key to this passage is Jesus’ question - ‘Which of the two did the will of the Father?’ Jesus addresses what the sons actually did and not what they said. He cracks open the disparity between what is said and what is done.

Jesus wants us to focus on what we do. His parable is a call to integrity. It is, quite bluntly, a parable about ‘putting our money where our mouth is.’ This week’s parable challenges us to ask ourselves: do our words match our convictions; do our deeds match our words? God bless




Sunday 20th September 2020


Please join to celebrate and give thanks

at the Mortimer, MWE & Padworth Parish Eucharist

on Sunday 20th September 2020 at 10.00 am

at St John’s Church, Mortimer,

& online at ZOOM

If you have zoom difficulties please contact the tech. team at 01189333136


For a rap version of the parable of the workers in the vineyard see




The Red Vineyard at Arles 

Vincent van Gogh


God’s Generous Goodness and the Workers in the Vineyard - My Ways are Not Your Ways cf Isaiah 55:8.

Prayer Thought: The parable we hear this Sunday teaches us that, whilst we may persist in judging by worldly standards, God’s ways are not the ways of this world. And if we want our judgements to be right by God we must learn to pray for guidance and grace to see people as he sees them and to judge others as generously as he judges. Ultimately, God always rewards according to his judgement and not ours. We can never fully understand the ‘mind’ of God who sees goodness where we may see none and who showers blessings where we may see none deserved. Yet, even with our limited vision, we can be sure that he is near and that he will hear every one of us whenever we call to him for guidance and grace to see the truth and to be generous.


The Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard

Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt’s painting of Jesus’ parable - found only in St Matthew’s Gospel - shows the landowner paying his workers at the end of the day. The weak evening light illuminates the table where the landowner’s wife sits with the account book open. Two workers question the landowner whilst the others to the right talk among themselves. The landowner has hired workers throughout the day and paid them all the same wage, whether they worked all day or only an hour. The workers who worked all day are angry. The focus of Rembrandt’s painting is the two workers questioning their pay. Perhaps the small scale of this painting - 12 x 16 inches? - helps to make us feel as if we are peering into their darkened room. Rembrandt was, of course, a master of using darkness to draw the viewer into the narrative and here he uses his masterful technique to draw us into Jesus’ teaching about generosity.




What do we make of Jesus’ teaching?

 Perhaps most would agree that Jesus’ teaching has changed the world. Yet his sayings can sometimes seem cryptic and hard for us to understand.

Yet when we explore the images and figures of speech that Jesus used we find that really they are all ways of expressing and evoking the same self-giving love of God. Of course, for Christians this self-giving love is manifested supremely in Jesus’ own life.

Jesus’ images and figures of speech communicate ‘spiritual’ truths often not in a literal but in a poetic way. They encourage us to take our own moral decisions with sensitivity and care for others and for the whole of creation. They show that God’s love will never abandon anyone and that that love extends to everyone without exception. And they promise a fulfilment of that hope for justice and peace and wholeness that surpasses anything we might imagine or describe.

When we put aside literalist, judgemental and divisive presentations of Jesus’ teachings what remains is the gospel/good news of divine love - a love stronger than death and the only power that can and will redeem us all and our disordered world. God bless.



Please join to celebrate and give thanks at the Mortimer, MWE & Padworth Parish Eucharist for Sunday 13th Sept. 2020

Please join to celebrate and give thanks at the Mortimer, MWE & Padworth

Sunday Eucharist for 13th September 2020 at 10.00 am at St John’s Church, Mortimer

and online at Zoom

If you have zoom difficulties please contact the tech team at 01189333136


The Return of the Prodigal Son

Rembrandt’s ‘Prodigal Son’ is, perhaps, his final word, his spiritual last testament. In this masterpiece he summons all his powers to set before the world Jesus’ message of God’s mercy and forgiveness. The aged artist’s power of realism is not diminished by his years but increased by his insight and spiritual awareness. This prodigal son has wasted, ruined and alienated himself and now, sunk to the condition of a swineherd, he returns to his father’s house. His father hurries to meet and receive his long-lost son with utmost tenderness and fatherly love. As the repentant sinner leans against his father's breast and the old father bends over his son his features manifest that divine love which illuminates the darkness of self-centredness and fear and all that leaves us alienated from God, each other, ourselves and all creation. Rembrandt reveals though the father’s face and gestures that mercy and forgiveness which is of God and which reconciles and makes whole.


Prayer Thought: Jesus reveals how God forgives. We do not earn this forgiveness - it is God’s free gift to us. The only condition is that we must forgive in the same way -forgive us our trespasses,as we forgive those who trespass against us’ - not with strings attached, not once only, but unconditionally, freely and always.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to realize the prisoner was you.


Reflections on this Sunday’s Gospel reading - 13th September 2020 - Matthew 18: 21 - 35.


    When, after years of injustice, democracy dawned in South Africa the Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, revived the idea of ubuntu, which, at heart, is the idea that a person is only a person - a ‘self’ - through other persons - that we only become fully human through relationship with others.


    At the core of ubuntu is the idea of restorative justice; that we need justice - acknowledgement of wrongdoing - but we also need to forgive each other as we need to be restored to each other because how we relate to others defines who we are. Forgiveness is at the core of ubuntu for without it there can be no hope of a right way forward.


    In this week’s Gospel reading Peter, as spokesman for all Christ’s disciples, asks whether we must forgive seven times - which means always (Ref. Genesis 4.24). Jesus answers with a parable about a debtor who, having no chance of paying off his debt, was released from his responsibility. But then he refused to be as merciful to those who were in his debt. Jesus’ message is how can we, who have received God’s forgiveness, ever crush another person by refusing to forgive them? And, as nothing can compare with God’s forgiveness of us, so there is no one we ought not ultimately be able to forgive. Jesus’ message is that when we do not forgive our neighbour we alienate ourselves from God. And he repeats this teaching several times to make the point that when we shut out mercy we show that we have not understood the love of God (Matthew 5.7, 43-48; 6.12-15). Yet, of course, what Jesus says can be very difficult for us to accept.


    Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch woman who suffered at the hands of Nazis in a WW2 concentration camp, gives a simple insight as to the ‘how?’ She writes of being unable to forget a wrong done to her and tells of how, even though she had forgiven the person, still she kept remembering the incident and could not find peace. Finally, she cried out to God for help to put the problem to rest. She tells of how God’s help came to her in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor ‘to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks.’ The pastor pointed to the call bell in the church tower which was rung by pulling on a rope and told how, after the verger or pastor lets go of the rope the bell keeps on swinging and ringing - slower and slower until there’s a final soft dong and it stops. The same is true of forgiveness. When we forgive we take our hand off the rope. But if we’ve been tugging at our grievances for a long time we shouldn’t be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while.


    Perhaps we find it most difficult to forgive ourselves. There’s story of a priest who carried the burden of a secret sin he had committed many years before in his youth. He knew that God had forgiven him, but still he had no peace. In his parish was a woman who loved God deeply and who, it was said, had visions in which she spoke with Christ and he with her. The priest, in his scepticism, asked that when next she spoke with Christ she ask what grievous sin her priest had committed in his youth. A few days later the priest asked ‘Did Christ visit and did you ask him what sin I committed those years ago?’ She replied that he had said: 'I don't remember because what God forgives God forgets.


    This Sunday’s Gospel reading gives comfort and hope to sinner and sinned against - to us all - and teaches us that ‘to forgive is to set a prisoner free and to realize the prisoner was you.


    There’s a humorous story of two brothers who went to their rabbi to settle a longstanding feud. The rabbi got the two to reconcile their differences and embrace. As they were about to leave he asked each one to make a wish for the other in honour of Yom Kippur, the Jewish New Year. The first brother turned to the other and said, ‘I wish you what you wish me.’ At that, the second brother threw up his hands and said, ‘See, Rabbi, he's starting it all up again!’

God bless, Paul


Reflections on this Sunday’s Gospel reading - 6th September.

 Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge. But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector.

‘I tell you solemnly, whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.

‘I tell you solemnly once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.’ Matthew 18:15-20.


In ordinary church life if parishioners are offended by another parishioner they might sometimes complain to the parish priest. If parishioners are vexed by the parish priest they might write to the bishop. If they are displeased by the bishop they might appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury. And perhaps if they don’t approve of the archbishop they appeal to God.


It’s a regular route to appeal to hierarchies to settle differences - thus avoiding personal confrontations. Often the last thing people actually want do is to actually confront the person who is offending them. But, this is what Jesus recommends in this Sunday’s Gospel reading. In fact Jesus insists that if another member of the Church sins against us then we must take the initiative and point out the fault when the two of us are alone: and we should not first appeal to some hierarchical figure. Jesus’ message is that the beginning of forgiveness lies in this personal confrontation and engagement. In other words, Jesus says our first response, if offended, should not be to push offenders away, but, instead, to engage, to have a conversation and to reason with them. And if that doesn’t work the next step of the process of engagement is to bring others into the reasoning process and not to rally the troops of like-minded so that we can get our way, but to get to the truth. Jesus’ message is that our default position is to be one of loving engagement with the clear aim to get beyond the face of the offending actions and remarks and to enquire more deeply into the reasons behind the person’s actions and to seek and to find the truth which, Jesus tells us, sets free. It involves going the extra mile and not giving in to premature judgements. Jesus’ message is a challenge to us all, to everyone in the community, it is the challenge to take responsibility and to exercise real servant-leadership in trying to discern and get to the truth in resolving disputes - gracefully and truthfully - for the good and wellbeing of all.


Jesus’ scenario begins in a candid and painful head-to-head between the person offended and the offender: his message, to repeat, is that the first step is to seek reconciliation personally and privately, without appealing to hierarchies. Jesus’ message is that this form of confrontation and engagement is an essential part of personal forgiveness and reconciliation. He does say that the ultimate court of appeal is to be the community and that the community has the power to treat recalcitrant members like tax collectors, but, of course, that raises the question:- how did Jesus treat tax collectors? This Gospel message is that the Christian community can never be finished with the recalcitrant and that the journey to final reconciliation is as long as the human story.


And our individual vocation in the human story is to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ - the one who is God made visible, the one who has been and continues to be wronged by our trespasses. Yet, though humankind turned its back on God, he, nonetheless, assumed the state of his offenders and suffered and died at their hands. And then he redeemed and raised those offenders to a status they neither deserved nor could reach without his help. As today’s picture - Iain McKillop’s painting of the Reconciliation of Peter – shows, the offended binds himself to the offender in an extraordinary way - it’s God’s way of reconciliation. This is Jesus’ Gospel message for us to share today.


You may know the little story about Rabbi Yitzhak? Once, Rabbi Yitzhak saw a fellow Jew smoking on the Sabbath day, which was something forbidden. The rabbi asked his fellow Jew whether he had forgotten what day it was. The man’s response was, ‘No,’ he knew what day it was. The rabbi then asked him whether he had forgotten that smoking was forbidden on the Sabbath. Again, the man’s response was ‘No,’ he knew it was forbidden. The rabbi then asked surely his mind must have been elsewhere when he lit the cigarette, but the man replied that he knew exactly what he was doing. Rabbi Yitzhak raised his hands and turned his eyes upwards to heaven and said ‘Sovereign of the universe, who is like Your people Israel? I give this man every chance, and still he cannot tell a lie!’ Rabbi Yitzhak was concerned by the waywardness of one of his own, a fellow Jew, and, even though his behaviour presumably offended and upset him, still he could find something good in his neighbour and some common ground to keep him close. God bless


Sunday Eucharist for 6th September 2020

 Please join to celebrate and give thanks at the Mortimer, MWE & Padworth

Sunday Eucharist for 6th September 2020 at 10.00 am at St John’s Church, Mortimer

and online at Zoom

If you have difficulties please contact the tech team – Lorna/Louis/James at 01189333136



‘The Reconciliation of Peter’

           by Iain McKillop

‘You see Jesus on the edge of the lake pressing forgiveness into Peter’s crumpled spirit after Peter had denied Jesus three times. After all Jesus had endured his wounds have become his signature and he signs himself in Peter’s flesh. He presses, crunches Peter so hard that you can see the tracery of fresh red as his wounds begin to open again. ‘By his wounds we are healed.’

Prayer Thought: Am I my brother’s keeper?
Through our baptism we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We have a responsibility towards each other: we cannot stand by idly and watch others harm themselves. In this Sunday’s Gospel reading we hear Jesus spell out our Christian family duty. God bless


Sunday 6th September Parish Eucharist

 Dear Friends,


On Sunday 6th September the Parish Eucharist will again be celebrated at St John’s, Mortimer, at 10.00 am. The service will, as usual now, be zoomed. However, there will also be the opportunity for a congregation of no more than thirty people to attend. All coronavirus guidelines will be adhered to carefully e.g. masks must be worn, hands sanitised and distancing maintained. And directions will be given to enable people to move safely through the church to receive Holy Communion.


Please, if you would like to attend at St John’s this next Sunday then please e mail or telephone Lorna, our head verger: / 01189333136


God bless




Please join to celebrate and give thanks at the Mortimer, MWE & Padworth

Online Sunday Morning Eucharist for 30th August 2020 at 10.00 am - at Zoom                    `

If you have difficulties please contact the tech team - Lorna/Louis 01189333136


Our guest preacher this week will be Fr Jonathan Ewer SSM, D. MIN.


‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself, take up his cross and follow me’. MATTHEW 16.
Prayer Thought: To follow Jesus and live his way may mean derision, hardship and suffering, but dying to self centredness and learning to love as God loves brings true purpose and real direction to our lives, to our families, to our communities, to our church and to our world.

Reflections on the Gospel reading:

This Sunday’s readings warn us against making the Gospel message too cosy.

    When someone says: ‘Now, let’s make this absolutely clear’ don’t we sometimes become suspicious that the obfuscation which is likely to follow will make everything absolutely unclear? Jesus knew that whatever he taught could not be misunderstood, providing we want to listen to and grasp and what he’s telling us. This Sunday’s Gospel tells us Jesus 'began to make it clear to his disciples that he was to suffer grievously’ and when Peter heard this message he didn’t like it and his first reaction was to remonstrate vehemently. Nevertheless, Jesus went on: ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself, take up his cross and follow me’. What could be clearer than that? Yet there is always the temptation to misinterpret Jesus’ words or, more precisely, to try and adapt his teaching to what we would have preferred him to have said and cosy things down. Peter didn’t like what Christ said because the implication for him - and for us - is that if we are to follow Christ we must prepare ourselves for a life of self-denial, self-renunciation and self-giving - which seems a far cry from the more liberal way of life most of us would prefer.

    Peter had made clear that he understood who Jesus was when he said (preceding paragraph): ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Yet when it came to reconciling that understanding with Jesus telling them that he must suffer grievously and die in order to be raised on the third day then that was just too much for Peter. And if we are not careful we fall into the same trap. Perhaps nothing stands in the way of us living Christ’s way and our own salvation so much as our own ‘cosy’ versions of Christianity - the sort that wants to be a follower of Christ on our own terms and without the ‘nasty bits’ of self-renunciation and sacrifice.  

    Bishop Tom Wright, in his commentary on this part of Matthew's Gospel, likens it to Lewis Carroll's ‘Alice in the Looking Glass’ in which he created a mirror-image world where to get anywhere you must go in the opposite direction. Christ's teaching is a bit like that: If you want to be a follower renounce yourself. If you want to save your life be prepared to lose it. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) spells out these apparent riddles and contradictions. Our society tends to take the Peter approach: ‘You can't do that!’ To be a success you must be strong not weak; rich, not poor; assertive, not meek.  

    When Christ looks at our world today to whom does he speak - to those who have seen their loved ones killed, to those who have had their lives smashed to pieces, to rioters, to parents, to teachers, to police, to politicians? Doesn’t he speak to every one of us saying just what he said to that crowd in Caesarea Philippi: ‘When the Son of Man comes, he will reward each one according to his behaviour’ ? Isn’t that really clear enough?

    Again, To follow Jesus and live his way may mean derision, hardship and suffering, but dying to self centredness and learning to love as God loves brings true purpose and real direction to our lives, to our families, to our communities, to our church and to our world. God bless. Paul


Reflections on returning to our church buildings…

For some time now a number of us have been sustained by our benefice’s online Sunday and Daily Services. But in the last months a group of us have also been acting as stewards/assistant vergers for the re-opening of our benefice’s church buildings. There have been ‘hours for prayer’ every week at St John Baptist, Padworth, and at St Saviour's, Mortimer West End. And from September there will be a Eucharist in church on Sunday mornings for limited numbers of households.


When we stand in the strictly-cordoned and clinical environment of our benefice’s church buildings, with a clipboard in front of us and the smell of alcoholic spray in the nostrils, it can sometimes feel a long way away from the mystical Eucharistic love-feast that Jesus initiated at the Last Supper. It might even seem that we have lost the sense of the Sabbath as a resting in-between time between the week ahead and the week just past. And, thus far, no singing, no sign of peace, no sharing of the same cup, no staying afterwards for coffee, and attendance by booking only.


Of course this is absolutely necessary if we are going to ease safely back into public worship. And we are nonetheless glad to witness to this.


Rather than being a ‘haven of escapism’ it feels as if the sacred space is itself touched and affected by the global situation - wounded almost. Yet, of course, believing that God, and therefore hope, transcends this virus is not the same as believing that God is aloof to our pain. We heard a story recently about a religious Sister/nun who, as a midwife, witnesses to God’s love on a daily basis in the extreme difficulties that the coronavirus brings to women already facing in childbirth some of the most challenging moments of their lives. The Sister reflected that perhaps we can offer a kind of eye in the storm of life in which people can take refuge and realise that whilst the storm might not pass quickly God is always there alongside us to offer to accompany us through it.


Many in the Christian community are still shielding and many can’t go to church and some church buildings remain closed. And for many of those who can go to church it may be only to enter for personal prayer - subject, of course, to all the current health and safety regulations. In these strange times perhaps it can feel like our church buildings have become strange and abandoned sacred spaces. And we might be tempted to ask 'where is God in all this? Is he away on business?’


In reflecting on how these restricted, sterile environments have been endured over these past few months - not just by us, but by many of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our world as they struggle to find their daily bread - we are reminded that God’s business is with us even in the most difficult of situations. And so let us remember to pray that we may know that he is present with us and let us, with one heart and mind, pray for those in our world most affected by coronavirus. God bless,



Mortmer, MWE & Padworth Sunday Morning Eucharist 23rd August at 10.00 am


Please join to celebrate and give thanks at the Mortimer, MWE & Padworth Online Sunday Morning Eucharist 23rd August 2020 at 10.00 am - at Zoom

Mortimer Online Mission:

If you have difficulties please contact the tech team via 01189333136



Simon Peter spoke up: ‘You are the Christ,’ he said, ‘the Son of the living God.’

Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.’ Matthew 16: 16-18.


Prayer Thought: St Matthew’s Gospel tells us that the Christian Church has been entrusted with the ‘keys’ of God’s kingdom so that it may show the open doorway of salvation to all peoples. Let us pray for the Church’s missionary work of sharing the Good News of our all-loving and all-embracing heavenly Father.






If you have difficulties please contact the tech team via 01189333136



                          ‘LET IT BE TO ME ACCORDING TO YOUR WORD.’    Luke 1.38


Prayer Thought: The Christian Way holds before the world a promise of great joy and happiness. It describes a way of living and offers a mystery of life that is full and forever. And this Sunday’s Feast  - referred to variously as The Falling Asleep of the Blessed Mother, The Dormition of Mary, the Repose of the Blessed Virgin Mary and The Assumption of Our Lady - proclaims this deepest and most profound of Christian mysteries and promises.


When Mary heard God’s announcement and accepted her vocation she understood that God was entering into the human condition through her and embracing humanity in order to put an end to fear, anxiety and death and that we may live gracefully and truthfully in that fullness of life which is without end. The message of the Scriptures is that this believing young Hebrew mother experiences the realization of the Good News of what full life in God means for us all. Mary, the Bearer of God, lived this earthly life in the presence of God and was the first disciple of her Son. And this Feast proclaims that, after her falling asleep in death (Dormition), we can trust that she was assumed into heaven. And that this is the same joy which awaits all who live and die in the way of Christ. Let it be to me according to Your word. Thank you. God bless, Paul


Mortimer Eucharist

 Please join in the Mortimer Eucharist

Sunday 9th August 2020 at 10.00 am on Zoom
Tell me to come to you across the water.
Prayer Thought: Sometimes God is to be found where we least expect him.
He appears in joy and in anguish, in the mountain breeze and in the sea storm.
In our prayer we need the patience of Elijah to wait for God to speak to us,
and we need the the boldness of Peter to walk towards him when he calls.