Lent 3 – Gareth 0

I seem to have given up health for Lent. Since returning from the USA in February I have been struck down with one plague after another. I’m getting a little tired of it, not to mention a little tired.

I returned to work this morning, I am still quite exhausted, but was delighted to be called into the hospital this morning to give communion to someone. A nice start.

Prayer Lab

One of the things I really want to focus on during these last three or four weeks until Easter is prayer. My prayer life over the last couple of months has been difficult. I’ve been aware of God’s presence with me at times; what I mean is, I’ve been aware that God is here, and so I guess I have rested in his presence, just sat with Him. Which has been fine.

Over the next few weeks I’d like to be a little more disciplined in my regular prayer times, the Offices. These times give me a gentle structure to my days, help me to step back and offer my ministry back to God. I find it too easy to be distracted by my agenda and that of those around me. I am being reminded often that this whole project is God’s, and no-one elses.

“I have called you friends…”

I’ve begun reading a book that my colleague Tim gave me for Christmas, I Have Called You Friends… by Kevin L. Thew Forrester. The main thrust of the book is about ‘mutual ministry’: ministry and baptism are different sides of the same coin.

In the book Kevin argues that Church is not a place of hierarchy but friendship and mutuality. We are all called to be students, vulnerable and willing always to learn and share with one another. We are called to be a family, and a family modelled on this type of equality and mutuality, where diversity is not tolerated but treasured and celebrated.

We are the friends of God. How fantastic is that! “Jesus gathered friends about him from the start of his ministry. They learned from each other, argued with each other, betrayed and forgave. They learned that there is no greater gift than to lay down their lives for one another.” (p. vii)

It is this kind of mutuality and friendship that I would love to see reflected in our Church today.

Our potential

A friend of mine, Paula, sent me this last week. Powerful stuff:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within is. It’s not just in some of us: it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Nelson Mandela

After originally posting this on my old blog I received the following e-mail from Dave Schlicher from the College Community Congregational Church UCC Fresno, CA, USA:

“I’ve heard that this quote was actually written by Marianne Williamson (and may (or may not) have been quoted by Nelson Mandela.) (Put “Williamson,” “Mandela” and “inadequate” into Google and you’ll get a sense of the debate.) It’s a fine quote, but doesn’t have quite the impact without the attribution to Nelson Mandela.”

So there you go! Still, it’s a good quotation.