This year as we are experiencing Lent, a time of waiting, preparation, questioning and discovery, it seems to me an appropriate and timely gift as we focus on our individual and collective response preparing ourselves for a new minister, someone to guide and lead us further into Christ’s vision of his life on earth as displayed in the Gospels.
Alone in the wilderness preparing for entering into his future ministry with those he would meet around him, Jesus faced strong temptations and challenging questions as to how to reveal God to the world. We read his answer and decision to be: The way, the truth and the life (John 14:6), further explanation of what this meant is shown through his life and actions as depicted in the Gospels.
During our Church Day listening to each other in preparation for our church profile we were given the opportunity and time to think and raise questions about the Christ-like qualities and experiences of a possible future leader. In one group after prioritising most of the listed attributes to choose from, one person after looking at the choices said, ‘We’re really looking for Jesus’! We expect a lot from those who lead us, which reminds me of the difficult and demanding task and extra work of those guiding us through the process of finding our next minister and to say how much we appreciate their involvement on our behalf.
Last year on a Radio 4 Daily Service in Lent during the pandemic, the speaker described a wilderness as being a bit like lockdown in giving us time to think and prepare for the next stages in our lives. She stated that the kindness, innovation and sacrificial service that had emerged must surely have had divine Inspiration.
This year in Thought for the Day on Radio 4, the Revd Dr Sam Wells spoke on Ash Wednesday about the awareness of the fragility of life particularly at this moment for Ukrainian people and also Russian troops. It’s a time for everyone to reflect on how they live. He quoted some words of a prayer: ‘Grant us wisdom and grace to use aright the time that is left to us on earth’. We can concentrate on our own comfort and survival he said, or we can live differently releasing the gifts and the flourishing of others. He reminded listeners that in Christian faith God resurrects the same person that dies, our character will surely remain recognisably the same. That means every tiny gesture of our lives has genuinely eternal significance because all those gestures establish a character we possess forever. Woven into each human life is an unfinished project towards a vision of eternity. Perhaps to be given everlasting life means to be granted the completion of that unfinished project.
We were reminded of the flourishing of others by our Moderator Rob Ellis one Sunday as he helped us in answering the question ‘Who is my neighbour?’ Maybe this preparation time of Lent will encourage further focus on how God can continue to extend the flourishing of others, both within and outside the walls of our church building, through each one of us.
As we ended our day of listening to each other, we acknowledged each other by holding hands in a large circle while we blessed each other as together we spoke the words of the Grace.
Dorothy Field, Deacon