sequencing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Finally it feels as if we are getting on top of the box-emptying and unpacking that has dominated our life for the last week. I am now sitting at my (unpacked) desk in a room that temporarily will serve as my study. I have my (unpacked) books on the bookshelves that just about fit in this temporary room.

But there are still things in the wrong rooms. One of the bedrooms is still a temporary resting place for the things (unpacked) that haven’t yet got homes. And don’t, whatever you do, try to go into our garage! It is (literally) packed floor to ceiling.

You see it’s all waiting for two events. Tomorrow we have a garden shed being delivered and that will enable us to take out of the garage a number of garden-related items that don’t belong there. Once the garage is emptier the plan is that it will be converted into an office for me. Once the office is created the (unpacked) contents of my temporary study will have to be taken back downstairs and set up in the new space along with items that are currently in our dining room that don’t fit in the current study but belong there. That will free up a bedroom to be a bedroom again and then the (unpacked) items that are still in the other bedroom will be able to be moved to what is currently my study… still with me?

All of these things have to happen in the right order. There’s no point at all in us having the garage conversion done until we have somewhere for the current (packed) contents of the garage to go, and the items that will go in the current study can’t go in there until the current contents are in the garage once it has been converted after the shed has been erected to take the current contents of the garage.

Getting everything and everyone in the proper sequence has not been easy. But it’s happening. Most of the people who are involved in the process are unaware of the crucial part they are playing in the whole process. They only know about the work they are doing. It’s only we as a family who will know the whole story.

And that’s true of the journey of faith too. Most people don’t know the significance of the part they have played in someone else’s faith journey. Most of us are unaware of the influence that others have had on someone before we have been involved with them. Only the person who is on that particular journey really knows it for his or her self.

Because Christians have Good News (that’s what Gospel means) they are very keen for others to share it and receive it. And we are sometimes overzealous in that (sorry). No, actually I am not sorry for the zealousness (if the Christian message is true then it’s impossible to be overzealous about sharing it!), but I am sorry for the insensitivity, manipulation and (sadly) spiritual abuse that can take place in the name of sharing the Good News. The keenness and desire for others to have what we have means that sometimes we are disappointed when we don’t realise that people are moving on their journey of faith. And it also sometimes manifests itself as guilt because we feel we have failed the person and Jesus.

So let’s relax for a moment and recognise that Jesus invites us all to play a part in someone’s journey of faith. But it’s THEIR journey, not ours. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to help them express their faith, not ours. All we are asked to do is be faithful, vocal, visible witnesses of what we have experienced and believe.

We may never know the part we played. We may never know the whole story. But I like to think that beyond death we will be delighted and surprised at who’s with us and we are enabled to know the part we have played in them being there.

what will have you done today?

Bed

not my bed!

What are you doing today? How much will you have achieved by the time your head hits the pillow?

I wonder how you answer those questions? Do you answer them in terms of actions completed, to do lists diminished, tasks achieved? It’s good to be able to do that. I remember at the non-conformist vicar factory to which I owe so much of my ministerial and theological foundations (Spurgeon’s College) we had a session about how it is important to set achievable goals. I also remember (and can confirm by experience) that in a role like that of a Minister, which is ongoing, it is important to break things down into bite-sized chunks and to recognise progress and achievements in that way.

For example, people’s ongoing Christian journey (including mine especially) is never one that is completed, at least this side of  ‘glory’. There is always more to learn, to teach, to discover, more room for growth, more spiritual fruit that we can bear. But baptising someone is a landmark in their journey of faith. Having someone thank you for something you said that they found helpful is something to celebrate (not out of pride, but that you have been sufficiently in touch with God that you got it right!). Finishing a sermon without anyone falling asleep is an achievement to be noted…

So, to bring it back to you, dearest bloggite, how do you answer those questions?

Did you include the conversation you had with your colleague at work where you were able to encourage them? Did you include the prayer you offered for the victim as an ambulance sped past, siren blaring, lights flashing? Could you count the smile on your face as you watched a child playing? Will you include the sadness as you hear from a friend who is struggling?

If we had to complete timesheets we would probably not include any of them. But they are achievements too. They are all part of being a free sample of Jesus…

The words of encouragement you spoke to your colleague were on behalf of Jesus. The prayer you prayed was interceding on behalf of someone in need: very Jesus-like. The smile recognising the joy of childhood and the wonder of play helps you to remember that we are called to a child-like faith and to play as well: Jesus’ words. The sadness with a friend is weeping with those who weep: Jesus-style.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

Something else I remember from Spurgeon’s was the atmosphere of laughter and learning. We all need to have a healthy sense of humour, especially about ourselves. The following purport to be letters to pastors from children…

Dear Pastor, I would like to go to heaven someday because I know my brother won’t be there. Stephen. Age 8, Chicago

Dear Pastor, I know God loves everybody but He never met my sister. Yours sincerely, Arnold. Age 8, Nashville.

Dear Pastor, Please say in your sermon that Peter Peterson has been a good boy all week. I am Peter Peterson. Sincerely, Pete. Age 9, Phoenix

Dear Pastor, My father should be a minister. Every day he gives us a sermon about something. Robert Anderson, age 11

Dear Pastor, I’m sorry I can’t leave more money in the plate, but my father didn’t give me a raise in my allowance. Could you have a sermon about a raise in my allowance? Love, Patty. Age 10, New Haven

Dear Pastor, My mother is very religious. She goes to play bingo at church every week even if she has a cold. Yours truly, Annette. Age 9, Albany

Dear Pastor, I think a lot more people would come to your church if you moved it to Disneyland. Loreen. Age 9. Tacoma

Dear Pastor, I liked your sermon where you said that good health is more important than money but I still want a raise in my allowance. Sincerely, Eleanor. Age 12, Sarasota

Dear Pastor, Please pray for all the airline pilots. I am flying to California tomorrow. Laurie. Age 10, New York City

Dear Pastor, I hope to go to heaven someday but later than sooner. Love, Ellen. Age 9, Athens

Dear Pastor, Please say a prayer for our Little League team. We need God’s help or a new pitcher. Thank you. Alexander. Age 10, Raleigh

Dear Pastor, My father says I should learn the Ten Commandments. But I don’t think I want to because we have enough rules already in my house. Joshua. Age 10, South Pasadena

Dear Pastor, Who does God pray to? Is there a God for God? Sincerely, Christopher. Age 9, Titusville

Dear Pastor, Are there any devils on earth? I think there may be one in my class. Carla. Age 10, Salina

Dear Pastor, I liked your sermon on Sunday. Especially when it was finished. Ralph, Age 11, Akron

Dear Pastor, How does God know the good people from the bad people? Do you tell Him or does He read about it in the newspapers? Sincerely, Marie. Age 9, Lewiston