Thursday, 27 September 2018

What next? - Part 2

“The plan may not be worked out, but God has a purpose.”

That’s the sentence with which I ended last month’s “View from the Vicarage.” If anything the plan is now still more mystifying, though I continue to hold to my faith that God does indeed have a purpose! But purposes are often still to be revealed and as yet unseen.

I’d been writing in the light of personal challenges - especially through my mother’s declining health and need for 24 hour care - and the challenges we face as a parish, not least from the lack of a working heating system in our church. Concerning the heating, I said we’d sent in estimates and proposals with a request for advice to our Diocesan Advisory Committee. The Committee’s response has not been what we hoped for. So we shall be responding further to them and challenging their reasoning which appears to run contrary to advice they gave last February! This means further delay. But we are pressing on - and have made a couple of recent grant bids (and had further positive responses in other quarters).

But having picked ourselves up and worked out how we would move forward, we were then hit by Storm Alice - hit quite literally, with two trees felled, one dramatically falling across the road but being caught by the power cables. After various strategies failed, skilful tree surgeons arrived and made a brilliant job of the tree removal. Power was restored after about 30 hours - and I enjoyed loss of a phone line and internet for 5 days. But there is more fabric work to be done now, since the major damage suffered was to our own boundary wall between the Church and the Vicarage. No doubt more expense - and form filling!

We might again ask, “Why?” and “What next?”

But, of course, we can’t just give up!

I was helped today by the readings we used at the midweek Eucharist in St. John’s Church. The first was from the Book of Proverbs (30.5-9) - and came in the form of a prayer:

Two things I beg of you,…
keep falsehood and lies far from me,
give me neither poverty nor riches,
grant me only my share of bread to eat,
for fear that surrounded by plenty, I should fall away…

It’s a prayer not to be given too much of either extreme (poverty or wealth) to have to deal with. It’s very much what we ask for in the Lord’s Prayer - “Give us this day our daily bread.” That’s a prayer not to have our cake and eat it (to push the metaphor) but to have enough just to keep us going. So it asks us to examine the question, “just what is God giving us? How is he feeding and nourishing us day by day?”

The other reading we used today was from St. Luke’s Gospel (9.1-6). It tells of how Jesus sent out the Twelve Disciples with a mission. They were to proclaim the Kingdom of God and bring healing to the people they encountered - and they were to do it without any provisions:

Take nothing for the journey: neither staff, nor haversack, nor bread, nor money… Whatever house you enter, stay there; and when you leave, let it be from there. As for those who do not welcome you, when you leave their town shake the dust from your feet as a sign to them…

We expect soon to be moving into the Hall for our regular worship. It’s not what we want. Hopefully it won’t be for too long. But it can be enough for the moment (just read what Messy Church accomplished there in its most recent meeting with 31 children, their carers and a host of leaders).

And St. Augustine reminds us of the longer view in the Collect we’ve been using this week in our worship:

Almighty God, you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you:
pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself,
and so bring us at last to your heavenly city
where we shall see you face to face;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord…

Martin Jackson

From the October issue of St. Cuthbert's Parish Magazine

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