That's what matters most and today has been full of people and Communion. It's been another fag paper day and things were again running tight, but they all fitted together and I found myself ended and back home by around six pm. Made the conscious decision to draw stumps by sea and call it a day, walking away from the study and watching the TV for a change, snuggled up and chilling to a comedy play and then an action film before making it to bed.
What has been most amazing today is the fact that I have managed to engage with so many people on a one-to-one basis in the one day. I love it when a day becomes filled with people and to listen to their stories about families, church and life is such a privilege. To extend the spiritual walls and to celebrate the love of a God who cares and came to save us from ourselves in our simple Passover meal never loses it's appeal of effect.
There are a number of people I'll at the moment and as the snow falls silently outside, covering the scars and the ugliness of our creation it is hard to to think of how God covers our sins and redeems us, turning an ugliness into beauty, using an awful event to create something beautiful in and for us.
The joy of seeing, and having confirmed, the real changes experienced in lives through the move of God's Holy Spirit. So often we ask, or are asked, for things empirical and yet when it is seen, how often to we stop to applaud, give thanks and be just a little moved by it? Lord, I love the way You influence lives and bring the most amazing changes through the simplest act of prayer and the affirmation of belonging that the presence of another confers.
The key to being Christian is totally wrapped up in incarnacy. God becomes fully man to reconcile us to Himself and it is in this that we are redeemed. In Jesus, the Christ, we see obedience; the putting first the many rather than self and it is here that the key is found. It is the breaking of bread and making the Christ known which turns that key and it is in being engaged and actively involved with the person before us, that image of the invisible God made visible, which sees the door open and the light rush in to even the darkest of places.
It's not 'if you build it they will come' but rather 'if we are with them they will have arrived'!
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us - and people respond to that coming among them. Too often we make Church about coming to see the show, begging them to see, hear, feel, and enjoy having their ears tickled with what they want. We feed the very same consumer society that we claim to separate ourselves from. Church, if we are honest, is for many of us (clergy and lay), about brining a 'popular' church. Senior staff have never asked me about how blessed, prayerful or engaged with the community we are in our iteration of Christ's Bride. They ask about numbers and crave the 'how many and how much' that permits them to measure their success to those around them (and especially perhaps those above - can I say that? Should I say that?).
Church is about being successful not being sacred. Our liturgy is failing and becoming limp as we seek to make it accessible and shorten it and fall into the trap that it and worship are two different things; and having condemned our liturgy to the label words, we reach for our Rend Collective songbook and play our tambourines for the masses in the hope they will dance!!! (I like Rend Collective by the way - not a knock at them)
Lord for those with whom I have been Church today, I thank You.
For those who have met with God and been touched by His presence and all that confers, and all that this affirms, today. I bless Your holy name.
Lord, help me to be the man You call me to be; the man for whom the Christ died, and never count the cost. To never wear a watch that I might be ruled by time rather than the need before me but to wear instead a smile and to affirm others (even in those stories heard perhaps again and again) with love and compassion.
For the many needs before me today I look to You, the God who answers by fire, and who speaks into our lives in the gentlest of whispers. Be God in the lives of those who sit in solitude, who recline in pain and confusion, who walk in the shadow of death.
Lord, I love you.
Running total (this is something I've been asked to do for an average week by someone looking at their own call - it is neither a boast or a complaint but merely just what it is)