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It is a tradition that our Minister writes a letter every month which is printed in our magazine, "The Messenger". Here is Deacon Marilyn's letter from the May edition.
Challenges, Changes and Opportunities
Lord, my body is not yet a temple,
But only one of your fair fields
Meanwhile my body is rustic and brash.
The world I live in is hedges and small blossoms.
Lord, consider me, and my earnest work.
A hut I have made, out of the grasses
How it longs for you?
How it tries to shine, like gold?
Recently, I came across Mary Oliver's poem Meanwhile. It speaks to me of the gulf between what I desire and hope to be for God and what I actually am. Sometimes a shaming realisation, yet in this very recognition is also my hope. I share these words as I try to grapple with my ever-changing context and the challenges that manifest in the hope of best results.
Friends, whilst none of the above are what any of us expected or hoped, and are in part tinged with sadness and perhaps a sense of uncertainty for some, I hope that knowing something of how with God's help we are moving forward, will enable members to believe that we can remain in good heart and know that "all is well, all manner of thing is well!" In all these events I believe that I am/we are continuing to be invited to trust in God, to remain alert to the Spirit's nudges, and to recall that nothing is ever wasted or impossible with our God! Whilst some feel that this is not "plain sailing" and at times, faith, assurance and hope are not always at the level one might desire, I am reminded of a line from an Iona prayer that held me in the early days of my first appointment: "Remind us that You call us not to succeed but to be faithful."
The Bible tells us stories of the Saints known and unknown through the letters of the Hebrews and more so in the lives of Abraham and Sarah, who all found that God is a God who keeps promises and often takes us down unexpected routes to reveal them! Matthew 25:1-13 with its story of the bridesmaids and its invitations to be alert and awake, prepared and ready for the unknown time when our God will arrive amongst us.
These all serve to remind us (among other things) that in our journey we do not travel alone, nor in vain! I believe this also to be true and relevant for the ongoing narrative of the church in the light of conversations in discerning her mission, ministry and renewed calling; what these may ask of us and how it seeks to shape us.
I want to suggest we thank God for all the opportunities open to us and for his continued generosity. Then we rest in God's peace that passes all understanding, and let him have his way with us.
We all know that "unless the Lord keeps the city, the watchman watches in vain." We will not watch in vain because we have put our hands in his hand and trust him for what is to come.
I give thanks for all those involved in this work and thank God for their willingness to serve God in this way. I ask that God grant them wisdom and strengthen them as we go forward.
As we journey on with our God and walk together as the body of Christ as such a time as this, I offer these concluding thoughts from Ian Adams, which I invite us all to pray and reflect on as we go forward:
"The God you seek is the God you desire.
The God you look for is the God you long for.
But is it possible that the God-who-truly-is,
is inviting you to shape the God-presence where you are?
You, of course, cannot make God anything other than God is.
You sense - you know intuitively - what this God may be like,
And you trust what have been passed on as the greatest revelations of the tradition.
In your experience and in the tradition, God is love.
Let this God shape the way you are.
Let this God make you."
Deacon Marilyn Slowe