There are times in life where the self-same response is brought forth in life as the magnification is clicked up and the view, for a number of reasons, stops you in your tracks and causes a sharp intake of breathe. This is one of them!
The pastoral role, the being a shephed for the sheep, is one of the most privileged, challenging and humbling roles anyone can aspire to assume. There are times when the sheep kick out and bring you home bleeding and limping. There are the times when you need to go out and find them and, having done some, plonk them around you neck (smelly and muck covered though they be) and bring them home. Worst of all are the times when th wolf is at the door, often a door that they've opened for a number of reasons, and the contest is on.
we are called to be 'one who comes alongside' - a Paraclete - to be the one who rushes into the burning buildings of life and contend with those who might devour those who stand before them. To give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf; to set the prisoners free and to preach 'good news' to the poor. In a day of death, Christingle, confusion and the promise of salvation the subtle tones and the rigid lines take on more meaning, and show themselves to be much more, as the focus knob is turned and all becomes clear and understanding, clarity and knowledge are added to.
The day has been a day of three halves - a sandwich in which the filling was the joy that meeting new people brings coupled with real 'family time' (which I need more of) - the bread being the things my life as a changed human being (the ontological reality that is 'priest').
Lord, for the broken people I seek to serve, give me clarity of vision and sharpness in my thinking, and action, that I might be their protector and guide. Give me wisdom in my dealings with those things against which they contend and gentleness in my execution of all before me. Help me to hear Your voice and to move to your prompting, to take each step prayerfully and never to startle the sheep or cause the wolves to strike. Gentle as doves and cunning as a serpent - now that's an image to contend with innit?
in a classroom of children, glow sticks, oranges and the excitement of Christmas before me, I experienced such joy as the privilege of engagement was mine.
In the joy of seeing the bricks were laid and relationships developed in the promise of changed lives as situations - the opportunity to extend the family that is more than being a congregation.
In the pain, anger and frustration that is mental health and the wounded and broken individuals, and the resonance in those around them with their bitter self-recriminations and destructive mea culpas - I look for you and your healing and redeeming love.
Lord, we bring who we are and what we have to the party, help us to accept and engage with those in the room the way we want to to be accepted and engaged with. Help us never to pass by on the other side when the need is obvious and apparent. May the wind in our ears never stop us hearing the voice in our hearts and, even though we might limp,may we never stop running the race until the line is crossed and our journey is done.
Thank you for a mixed day and for the challenges and joys - let's do this again tomorrow - but let's do it a bit better eh?