Friday, April 27, 2007

Personal Reflection

Several recent events in my life have caused me stop and think.

I've recently learned of parallels between my life and that of somebody else, that I was not previously aware of. It has caused me for the first time in a long stretch... to seriously ask whether or not I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. The last time I really felt this way, was back in 2005 when I attended a confirmation service at Coventry Cathedral. I saw something that has remained with me to this day.

A young, bald vicar who sported a goatee was standing beside one of the candidates he had brought with him from his church, to be confirmed. At one point this vicar stretched his arm out slightly above the candidate and turned his head to face them... in a pose very reminiscent of the Argonath from The Lord of the Rings. I remember feeling particularly inspired by this.

I'm not a fan of the clergy as an institution... but I have respected and been deeply fond of many of them as individuals. In fact I can say that I wouldn't be the person I am today without the inspiration and advice that God blessed me with through a few of them.

During my childhood, a lot of people assumed I would grow up to be a vicar myself... because faith is so important to me. In a way I struggled with that because I always felt that acting out your faith should be the status quo. Just because somebody is zealous about their spirituality, it shouldn't mean that they have to become a minister, pastor, priest, vicar, monk or whatever... faith and spirituality to me, are the natural state. We should all be passionate about what we believe. I've always remained apart from the idea of joining an official ministry in an attempt to illustrate this truth to other members of any congregation I'm with. I agree with Alastair that there is a latent, subconscious conspiracy between congregations and clergy that results in too much emphasis being put on ministers. Sometimes congregations don't want to get involved in the spiritual life of their church and expect their leaders to do it all for them... which is an unfair burden to ask of anyone. Sometimes, ministers accept to readily social privileges that come their way because of their position and standing. Either side can be at fault. The Bible says that we are one body, with many parts and that Christians are together after all a royal priesthood. We should all be doing our bit... As Paul* taught:

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load." Galatians 6:2-5

We - each of us, should do the work asks of us... for it is our personal load. However when we see someone struggling because they have taken too much on and are burdened... however important or trivial that person may seem to either our own perception, or that of the church... we should be prepared to step in and offer our support - because that is the way of Christ. We ALL need to do this.... not just leave it to clergy. The only thing that should determine whether or not you become involved in the official ministry of any denomination... is the calling that God places on your heart... that's it.

However, at times like these I do wonder whether or not I am doing the right thing... I ask myself, should I become a part of the system? Am I serving God best where I am... or should I sign up? Certainly at this time, Richard's passing has been a catalyst for these thoughts. I am genuinely uncertain as to which way I should go.

I've also been reflecting on other areas of my life. Things have happened to me recently that beg me to question, whether my past attitudes when I have been keen on a girl... have somehow come back to haunt me? Is the boot on the other foot?

You see I was never good at taking gentle, subtle hints from a girl if I was keen on one. I was a romantic... I used to believe that it would all turn out right in the end. I wore rose-tinted spectacles... and I used to emotionally hang on long after the time was right to move on. That could be if I just fancied someone... or worse if I was actually in a relationship.

Hopefully I've learned my lesson.

Even so, I do fear that I may be reaping what I have sown... that I may in fact be on the receiving end of the behaviour I used to exhibit. One thing I know about myself... I may be stubborn, I may take a lot of convincing, but once I have made my decision... I stand by it. I move on and I never go back over old ground. If the ship has sailed, it will not return. I do not become enamoured by the same girl twice.

All in all a lot to think about.

Prayers and thoughts would be appreciated.



*I know Jenni has a different interpretation of the context of this passage, but both are acceptable and theologically correct... and this way round is appropriate to the message I am bringing on this occasion.

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