Monday, 1 July 2013

Is the tide turning?

Yesterday at St. James we witnessed the baptism of a young woman who came to faith in one of our Basic Christianity groups in the Parish. It was in many ways a low key occasion with Linsey bringing with her just her fiance, her sister and a close friend to the morning Holy Communion service where the guest preacher was the Diocesan Director of Mission, Janet Russell. But for Linsey it clearly meant a whole lot more and to say that she glowed with faith would be an understatement. When asked about what had been happening in her life she spoke clearly and confidently about her journey to faith and what it meant to her and how Jesus was now a significant person in her life. Her fiance Gary too spoke about the change he had seen in her life and we are looking forward very much to seeing them both confirmed next week, and later on this year, married in St. James' church.  It was a lovely time and one, I pray, we will see a lot more of.

Reflecting on what has happened I feel a little bit like the Crunchy Nut Cereal advert where a group of researchers are waiting on the edge of a corn field for the arrival of some very timid and shy extra-terrestials only for the idiot with the bowl of crunchy-nut cereal to decide to start eating and frighten them away. On the one hand I want to shout it from the rooftops that God is at work among us and another person has entered the Kingdom of heaven, while on the other I am afraid in case it is somehow all spoiled by the noise of my excitement. I have to admit too, to not wanting to get carried away as I have seen all too many false dawns in my 25 year ministry when mountaintop experiences and a few wonderful conversions have all too quickly led to a devastating desert experience that has brought me to the verge of quitting ministry altogether. A few highs and too many lows have left me a bit battered and bruised and I still, evidently, carry the scars today. But - and it is a significant 'but' - I can't stop myself from several things:

1. Praising God for his love and mercy and grace in doing what he has done. One thing I have learned over the years is that my part in all this really is a' bit part' and all the glory is down to him from start to finish. I always remember the words of Paul in this respect and want to continue in:

"being confident of this, that he who began a good work......will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Phil 1:6

Notice "he who began...will carry it on to completion". No mention of his - Paul's - part in this. It is all God from start to finish. And so it has been with Linsey and, please God others.

2. Praying fervently for more. More God, more. Please don't stop. Apparently the UK is going through a bit of a baby boom at the moment and there are loads of families out there celebrating the birth of children. Remembering the joy of welcoming little Theo our grandson into the world I long to see that joy in the Church again. It's been a long time since the Church had it's own 'baby boom'. Wouldn't it be wonderful if this was a sign of another.

3. Asking God for wisdom and help to know how to take this forward. After Basic Christianity what next? I guess that this was why James speaks so confidently about how God answers any prayer for more wisdom.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."  James 1:5

If there was any need for wisdom it is now. So God, please give it.

4. I don't want to assume of course that this is the beginning of a 'boom' in new conversions, but neither do I want to demonstrate a lack of faith in not believing that it is not! Is there a middle path? I guess there is. Relaxing in God and letting him "blow where he wills" and do what he wants. Isn't that faith? Faith in God  rather than in the events themselves? That way he has the freedom to do something different and new next time and not be constrained into cloning people via a sausage-factory kind of procedure which ignores individuality.

So it's all good and exciting. I pray this is not the last blog on the subject.

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