nocturnal niggles and nudges

“Have you ever had the feeling that you have forgotten something important but can’t quite put your finger on it? It’s quite unnerving. It nags away at you. It niggles in the back of your mind. Even more unnerving is when you finally remember what it was when you wake up in the middle of the night and have to work out what to do about it. Do you hope you will remember when you wake up, roll over and go back to sleep? Do you write yourself a note and then go back to sleep? Or do you do something about it then and there?”

Cue gratuitous cute kitten picture because that’s what the internet is for, apparently:

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This is how I began an email that I sent out today. Each week one of the Regional Ministers in our team will write a ‘thought for the week’ and send it around on a Thursday to all of our Ministers. This week it was my turn and, despite having a reminder in my diary, I forgot. Yesterday I had a sense that there was something I should have done, but I could not remember it.

I did remember it at 4 o’clock this morning. I was left with the dilemma above and decided that, because I was awake, I should write it then rather than wait until later this morning when I might have forgotten it again. I also decided that I would use my memory lapse as a ‘way in’ to the thought (which I have set out below in case you are interested*).

Once I had written the ‘thought’ and added items from the prayer diaries from across the Association I selected the email address groups and hit ‘send’. I relaxed and was just starting to get my head around the idea of going back to bed when my email program splurged out an error message saying (rather bluntly) that it had stopped. It then flashed up a message saying that it was trying to restart.

My heart sank. Silently I thought, “Aaaaaargh!”

I didn’t want to have to rewrite the email. I didn’t think that in my semi-conscious state I could remember what I had written – certainly not in the same way.

The program restarted and I anxiously opened the ‘Drafts’ folder to see if any remnants of my work had been saved.

And, wonderfully, most of what I had written had been kept. Only the bits I had written in the last five minutes had gone.

Silently I thought, “Pheeeew.”

I could just about remember what I had written in the previous five minutes so I re-wrote those bits, saved the email, added in the addresses again and clicked ‘send’…

It sent successfully.

Relief.

I am so glad that my computer program now has an autosave feature in it and that even when it crashes it retains most of what I have been doing. It’s needed because computers are still unreliable. It’s a shame that this is the case, but I am glad that the autosave feature exists.

We’re a bit like that. Like computers we are not always reliable. We crash. We let people down. We let God down. We sometimes (often) need to restart, and God’s grace is such that when we come to him and seek a fresh start he will do just that. And his grace is such that, even when we have crashed, he doesn’t make us start from scratch again. He has an autosave. We may need to do some work to help restore the damage or the hurt we have caused. We might need to look again at our attitudes and approaches and seek new ones. But the Jesus response is: “Go and sin no more”

Be blessed, be a blessing.

*I wonder whether we Baptists are a bit like that when it comes to this coming Sunday. We have had Easter, then we had Ascension Day, last week it was Pentecost and now, isn’t there something important about this coming Sunday? I’m sure there is, but I can’t put my finger on it…

…Oh, yes. It’s Trinity Sunday. The Sunday when traditionally vicars get their curates to preach to explain the Trinity to their congregations so they don’t have to try (allegedly). If I am honest it’s a Sunday that I can’t remember observing much in our non-liturgical, non-conformist Baptist churches. I don’t think I have preached much specifically on the theme of ‘The Trinity’ even though I know that God is Three in One and that permeates my experience and understanding of God and (I hope) all my preaching.

The lectionary readings set for this Sunday are momentous. Yes I know all Scripture is momentous, but you know what I mean. I invite you to read these passages in their entirety, but I give you a small passage from each to whet your appetite:

Isaiah 6.1–8 – “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

Psalm 29 – “”Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to his name; worship the LORD in the splendour of his holiness.”

Romans 8.12–17 – “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

John 3.1–17 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his One and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

By now you will probably have chosen what you are preaching on this Sunday. You may well have written your sermon. But give yourself a treat. Take the time to read those passages above and allow yourself to bask in them, to soak them up, to feel the weight of them, and to experience Father, Son and Spirit through them: the Father who commissions, sends and loves; the Son who comes and calls and dies because of that love; the Spirit who is given, who indwells, who leads. Don’t read them to explain the Trinity to your people, read them to have an encounter with him/them for yourself. Don’t read them to prepare a sermon, read them to prepare yourself. God the Three in One wants you to feel, hear and know how much they love you.

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