Rector's Ramblings: September 6th 2020

 

 

 

  I’ve been plagued by an earworm all week, suffered from Involuntary Musical Imagery. Or to you and me, I’ve had a song going round and round in my head. It’s a Graham Kendrick 1993 song:

All I once held dear
Built my life upon
All this world reveres
And wants to own
All I once thought gain
I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now
Compared to this

Knowing You Jesus, knowing You
There is no greater thing
You're my all You're the best
You're my joy my righteousness
And I love You Lord

 

   Round and round it has gone and I’ve been singing it out loud round the house and walking Bran. I sensed that God was speaking to me through this, reminding me. Be aware that God speaks to us in many different ways. I’d been getting my head round the ‘Shaped by God Together’ material (read under ‘Latest News’ section). Quick process as we’re asked to pray especially during September but also submit stories. Closing date for those of 30th September so suddenly little time, with decisions to be made by May 2021. I had to ask myself how I felt about it all, and I will share some of that with you as it may help you work out where you stand:

  • Ignore it. Put my head in the sand. It may be that you would say ‘so long as the church sees me out’. If you know me at all, you’ll know that is not me. I believe it is right to take part in processes like this, particularly as members of the body of Christ. It’s no good moaning about an outcome that we don’t like when we never voiced our views. That’s not to say we will like the outcome if we do take part, but I’ve found that if I say what is on my heart, then I can accept that I won’t always get what I want.
  • Be cynical. Always tempting but it is destructive and doesn’t get us anywhere – except possibly into conspiracy theories. Not a response that honours Jesus. I will putter and moan for a while if I’m honest but then...
  • Work with the issues. I have to work with the issues at both the church level and a personal level as this touches many things in me that I have held dear for many many years now.

 

      What are the issues? Ones we have been facing for a long time but ones that have no easy answers or solutions. The landscape around us has changed: social media, a loss of knowledge of theological matters, an antipathy to institutions of any shape or form and so on. We have lovely buildings, a holy space for all in our communities, but they are very demanding of us. Clergy are fewer than they were and somewhat older (?). Congregations are getting older too. Finances are not healthy. Yet we as members of the body of Christ still have the calling to serve our communities and to make known to those around us the love of Jesus – whatever our age. Coronavirus has brought all these issues into sharp relief as it has for many businesses and so forth.

   For me there is real sadness as I know many things that I have long held dear will look different in the not too distant future. I believe in the parish system with a parish priest who gets dug in and is there for every blade of grass, whether they come to church or not. I believe in the local church. I guess there will be sadness for all of us and we have to name that but not stay stuck with insisting things remain as they were.

   There is also excitement. The issues the church faces are beyond us as humans to solve. We have a faith into which is built the pattern of death and resurrection. Some things we hold dear may/will have to die but there will be something new: resurrection. That is the pattern that Jesus shows us and it is the pattern writ deep into the fabric of our world.

  Which is how I acquired my earworm. What I once held dear, I may be called to let go of but there is Jesus. ‘Knowing You Jesus, knowing You there is no greater thing’

  Let us go into the weeks and months ahead as people of prayer, asking that God’s will be done and not ours, and praying for those poor souls who do have to shoulder ultimate responsibility (a heavy burden for any). Let us be a people who show it is possible to disagree and argue but to remain in unity as those who love our neighbour as ourselves (often at considerable cost). That is the challenge of Jesus and Paul in today’s readings – have a look.

    Who knows what the months ahead will bring? None of us. Our Lord does and all is in his hands