Sunday, 12 April 2015

Easter Comings and Goings

I spent Holy Week and Easter in and around Bath, the home city of Laura and I. I had always hoped that having a sabbatical over the Easter period would enable me to experience the journey of Holy Week and Easter as a disciple again as having led Holy Week and Easter services for the last 11 years has left me often feeling as if I had 'gone through the motions' somewhat. So I spent time in a variety of church settings, morning prayer at Bath Abbey, time with All Saints, Weston, - a church we used to attend in our younger days - and the long walk of witness from Oldfield Park to Twerton Roundhill (see picture below), with all of them being opportunities to receive.

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.

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