One of the aspects of ordained ministry that I enjoy (and never cease to be fascinated by) is how we are involved in a number of independent and apparently isolated activities. The variety of things I do day by day and week by week seems to be endless – visiting school; taking home communion to older members of the community; quietly reflecting at Morning Prayer; leading worship on a Sunday with a diverse and wonderful group of people; chairing meetings; supporting the bereaved; meeting with colleagues; sitting at the desk ….. the list goes on. Sometimes there are ‘special’ things – helping at the Robert Bear Picnic for the Roberts Centre (drawing on my May Fayre and Car Parking Skills, I was appointed Head Marshall!); leading the British Legion Service to mark the end of the Falklands Conflict in blazing sunshine at the Sally Port; handing our badges at the Big Lunch/Get Together event; and, of course, trying to win the skittles night!
This variety can at first appear disconnected and random. But this last weekend focused my thinking and highlighted how they are all linked and flow in and out of each other. The events of recent days and weeks have left many confused, frightened, anxious, angry, saddened and unsettled as we hear of terrorist attacks and tragic fires. What is our response, what can we do?
The answer for me starts in the reflection of Morning Prayer (and at other times) and then flows into the events of the day. Our calling as God’s people is to seek his presence in our lives and in our world – and so in others. The readings at the Mass during the week
reminded us of Jesus’ call to us to ‘love our enemies’ and ‘to pray for them’. That is a huge challenge – but it calls on us to see Christ in others, to not let hate and revenge and judgement of others overwhelm us. So we are also called to build communities together to seek to be signs of the Kingdom of Heaven in our broken and troubled world. One of the phrases associated with the Great Get Together was ‘to recognise there is more that unites than divides’. So how do we help to bring that recognition about, to bring hope and love where seeds of hate and despair have been sown?
So our response is about prayer and recognising God’s presence, which is followed by us taking steps to build community, to reach out to others and to share with them that love and respect of Christ. It is that which gives shape and coherence to my ministry – whether it as a Head Marshall, Badge distributor, Legion Chaplain, visitor of the housebound, taking assemblies, listening to the bereaved, all I do – and is all then offered to God as we gather at His table at the Eucharist. As we offer to Him the Bread and Wine we offer to Him ourselves and all we do, as they become transformed into living signs of His presence.
This is not unique to those ordained, it is the calling of all of us who seek to walk with Christ in our lives. As we continue to face a time of uncertainty, perhaps you could think how each day you can find time both to pray to discern God’s presence and to show His love for others as you build community with those around you.