In the past week I have had the privilege of: taking a funeral/thanksgiving service for one of our members, talking with a couple to plan a wedding, having honest and humbling conversations, plan events at a University, engage with a local school, share communion with someone, attend various meetings, prepare and preach a sermon, meet some fellow ministers, consider and pray for pastoral needs in the church, visit someone in hospital, pray for and anoint someone with oil for healing, be involved in a project with the Town Council, deliver some flowers to someone with the love and prayers of the church, play with play dough and tell a Christmas story at one of our toddler groups… and that doesn’t include the conversations over the phone or in the street, the praying, reading the Bible and trying to listen to God…
I am so grateful to God and to the people with whom I minister for that privilege.
This week will be different again. And so will the next one. I remember at the vicar factory where I was trained for this role we were warned that one of the difficult aspects of the role is that it is never finished. There is always more to be done. There is always more that can be done that could be done in the available time. At the time the thought scared me a bit. I was used to being in a job (litigation lawyer) where cases were resolved, where there was a clear outcome, where there was ‘completion’. Being in a role where that was not possible was scary.
But I have found, with respect to the vicar makers at the factory, that to see things that way is to miss so much. It would be like walking through a national park and only looking ahead at the path stretching out in the distance while missing so much beauty and blessing around me. Just now, as I recalled the last week, I was blessed by the thought that God has used me to touch so many peoples’ lives. What a privilege!
I was advised by a wise person at the vicar factory that it is a good idea to keep a ‘blessing’ file. I still have it. It is a file in which I put letters and cards and other things I have been given that remind me that I have been a blessing and how others have been a blessing to me. It’s not an ego thing. It’s not a file I have examined for several years. But I can see it now and I know that it contains evidence that God has used me and God has blessed me. When I see it and am reminded of those things it’s like a large hot chocolate with cream and a flake for the soul – warming me in the moments when I forget that God called me to this role and wants to bless people through me, comforting me when I feel less useful and more useless, and sending my spiritual taste buds into overdrive as I sense God’s affirmation and encouragement.
You may not have a file like that, but I would like to encourage you to think about the people God has used you to bless, and those who have blessed you, in the past week. Receive a large hot chocolate for your soul (with cream, a flake and marshmallows if you like!) as God’s Spirit affirms and comforts you.
Be blessed, be a blessing.