Sunday, 12 April 2015
Perhaps though the most significant moment for me was during the Easter service at All Saints where a non-stipendary minister was sharing feedback from his own sabbatical. He shared that prior to his sabbatical he felt like he '...didn't know whether he was "coming or going"...' due to the combined pressures of his employment and his ministry. He went on to share that what he had realised was that ministry, indeed discipleship, is all about 'coming and going'. The contrast of coming to God for refreshment and renewal and being sent to 'go' to serve, witness and minister.
Im still pondering the significance of this idea for me and my own discipleship and ministry, but I do have a sense that it was a word from God for me to mull over. As I was reflecting and sharing a bit of this with someone this week they shared the observation that the Easter narratives are full of this contrast of coming and going. Jesus comes to Jerusalem, heads into the temple and then goes again. The disciples come to Jesus for the last meal, they go in fear at his arrest. Jesus' followers and friends come to the cross and go away in sadness in mourning. The same followers come to the tomb in sadness and grief and go sharing news of great joy. The same person I was speaking with went on to suggest that the tension of coming and going was also present within me - and I think they are right. I have the desire to come to God to find refreshment for my body and soul, to drink from the fountain but equally it seems that often I would do anything to find a way of avoiding this, as though Im running away from the source of healing and strength that I need.
In the next few days Im going to try and balance these two aspects of discipleship which are complimentary. I hope to spend time drawing near to God, but conscious that any drawing near is about me being changed, filled, resourced for the going into the world that God calls each of us to.
Monday, 30 March 2015
Monday, 23 March 2015
'For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.' (Ps 36:9).
I think these two images are a reminder for me and others that the source of all things good, the source of joy, the source of hope, the source of peace, indeed the source of anything that gives life is God Himself. He is the One from whom life and goodness emanate. Ironically, this is something I so often forget as I plod the path of daily discipleship let alone seek to exercise ministry in His Name. It leads me to ponder what life and ministry might really look like if I was better at drawing deep from the one who is called the 'fountain of life' and allow His love and grace to flow through me rather than trying to do do do in my own strength.
Tuesday, 6 January 2015
Thursday, 3 April 2014
Today I read Judges Chapter 17 and paused on v.6 'in those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.'
Now Chapter 17 of Judges is a curious chapter. After the narratives about the exploits of Samson and before him various characters, there is a stand alone story about a man called Micah. He appears to hold no leadership function in Israel, he's not a judge or King, just some random bloke who thinks that by paying for some ministry he will live in health and happiness. (v.10-13)
I'm struck by the sense that all too often in my experience God's people continue to operate in a worryingly similar way. A faith that, on the surface at least, can often be expressed in a quasi-superstitious way where quid pro quo trumps the concept of faith believing in extravagant grace. All too often I've heard people justify their 'faith' in terms of how much money they have given to the church, or those who see the favour of God present, or future hope, as a reward for church attendance, faithful service or other good works. Surely such an outlook is at best faith mixed with superstition (I.e unless I do 'x' why will happen etc) or at worst heresy.
For me, the clue to Micah's curious outlook on faith/life is found in the afore-mentioned verse 6.
'In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.'Without godly leadership to gently guide or steer God's people it is so easy to miss the mark and wander astray. Good leadership is never oppressive, manipulative or domineering, but it does set a path for people to follow and calls them to maintain on a straightish road of discipleship in the midst of distractions and challenges. In my own UK Methodist tradition, we are increasingly re-discovering that one of the roles of the ordained person is to lead. There are many ways of expressing godly leadership, but it's vital to understand that the absence of leadership only leads to calamity, however naively it was pursued, or innocently it was embarked upon.
'Good leadership is never oppressive, manipulative or domineering...'To lead well, then may not be all about 'success' as the modern church all to often views, with pass/fail criteria largely based upon the building of bigger churches, but the test of leading well is surely to assess, what is passed on to others, an authentic Gospel secure in faith/grace partnership or a deviation from the wonderful story of God's grace which is always to sell people short of all that is on offer
Wednesday, 2 January 2013
Today, Tuesday January 1st, 2013 I covenant myself again to the God who created me, forms me and to whom I owe my life. As I reflect on another year passed, I'm struck by the comfort I've eased into. I'm very much aware that my commitment to God sounds great from my mouth, but looks all so different in the choices I make and the energies that I exert. This is no guilt trip but a chance to commit myself to live as best as I know how for the pleasure and glory of King Jesus in 2013.
In the tradition that I've come from the place to do this liturgically would be at the end of a celebration where prayer and encouragement are offered once one has stood, or 'come forward' as a sign of movement in the soul.
I have no celebration here tonight, I have no prayer team or band playing Christian mood music, but in some small way, this is my public response to the altar call in my heart, which beckons me again, to live the dream of a life after God.
A few updates may follow at some stage, but I'm already excited to be following a bit more deliberately tonight and for the year ahead after Jesus. Anyone want to join me at the front?
Thursday, 24 November 2011
1) Solomon is successful. He is wealthy and impressive, the repeated phrase that never had such things been seen in Judah, shows that he was remarkably successful. Because of his success, he is sought out by the Queen of Sheba.
I've been wondering a fair bit lately about whether 'successful' large, slick, modern, churches are what God wants. Is this a representation of the Kingdom that is seen in mustard seed and yeast? But equally am aware that in a culture that is so aware of 'image' that to be impressive and successful and be seen to be full of life and making a real difference and impact can draw people to you to pick your brains or seek your input. This is what is happening here. Solomon's reputation goes before him and is therefore attractive to the seeker - in this case the Queen of Sheba. So maybe being impressive isn't so bad after all.
2) Nothing changes in the life of the Queen of Sheba. She is impressed, she receives help it seems. She goes on her merry way, but there is nothing to suggest a challenge to transforming life and becoming a follower of the Lord, in contrast to other 'foreign' monarchs who acknowledge the power and goodness of God in thew OT. Is there not a danger in 'impressive churches' of being caught up in the 'impressive' and missing the real Kingdom moment of transformation? Isn't it so easy to consume and consume the great 'product' of a modern, slick church, and pass away without anyone noticing that nothing in you has been challenged or changed? Is the potential pitfall that people are impressed and even attracted but the presentation softens the hard Gospel call?
These are just questions which i have no answers to and am just posing really, but are worth considering. As a minister in a medium sized but growing church I am well aware of my ambitious streak which is very keen to impress and be noticed, but sense, for me anyway, the nagging voice of the Spirit challenging me to help shape communities that represent God's Kingdom and not human empires.