Monday 14 January 2008

Looking up, without baggage

Wonderful and inspiring day yesterday at the Church of the Holy Spirit, Bedgrove. It was very energizing to experience vibrant Charismatic Evangelical worship, and to feel part of a real learning, discipled community. There are wise and committed home-grown leaders within the congregation. I found at least one of any sociological group you care to name, always a sign of strength in depth.

They are currently looking for a new Vicar. The challenge will be to find someone gifted to catalyze able people for service, and draw the act together by mutual accountability. Power games would be lethal, as would fantasy football Church (“I've got a great half baked idea which I'm going to download on you anyway...”), or Fat Controller grandiosity.

We explored Jesus’ baptism as a type of our baptism — standing at the lowest place on earth, turning from thirty years of home and small town life, looking up to all that was to be. Inspired by George and Ben’s incredible journey, I quoted an old thing I came across years ago. It’s all over the internet, sourced from “an anonymous Confederate soldier.” It says something helpful about our ambitions and expectations at the beginning of 2008:
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve —
I was made weak, that I might humbly obey.
I asked for health, that I might do great things for God —
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy —
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, to earn the praise of men —
I was given weakness, that I might feel my need of God
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life —
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things
I asked for great things in the future —
I was given the joy of the present moment.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for —
I am most richly blessed among all...


Hazel Butland said...

Sunday was very special. It was great to have you worshipping with us at the Church of the Holy Spirit. Thank you so much.
I am certainly looking forward to looking up from the lowest place on earth when I visit the Jordan Valley in march.
Thank you for putting the Confederate Soldier's prayer on your blog. It has been 'food for thought'.
Last year God gave me a special gift of weakness and infirmity. It is not easy as a GP to be ill; 'Doctor's can't be ill!'people say. But the soldier's prayer is true:I was given weakness to feel the need for God and appreciate the church family as a caring community.
God has richly blessed me through my illness. I discovered how special it is to be appreciated and how important it is to show appreciation.
It is not easy to 'lose' the viar when you are having chemotherapy; the love and support was so important.
My prayer is that we will be able to love and support our new vicar, encouraging the vicar's strengths but supporting and not criticising weaknesses. At the end of your allegory in the evening the vicar was smiling - that's my prayer.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Thanks, Hazel. I really felt God was among us in HS on Sunday. As I pray around the future of the parish, I feel increasingly that God will bring fruit from the faith and love you can feel so clearly in the Church. I know there are challenges and risks, but I'm sure he will bless you richly as people are able to let him. Your strategy for working with a new vicar strikes me as spot on!

Love and prayers

as ever


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