SUMMER LETTER OF LOVE
As a football fan (and please read on even if you hate the game, because this is going somewhere), I try to block out the memory of a lost game; a habit of mind to keep me happy. There is no such trick when it comes to life because, as Bessel van der Kolk’s book reminds us: The Body Keeps the Score. And right now, across the nation, there are some painful scores that cannot be wished away.
That reality probably includes you, as a minister for Christ.
The year 2022 has encompassed so much we would rather forget. It began only a few weeks’ ago, really, with a severe lockdown; another tear in our social fabric. In a strange, linear way, the national storyline has moved from that to war in Europe to a cost of living crisis to a UK government in transition. The effects of Covid and other problems have burrowed into us like a burn that gets worse even while we hope it is getting better.
July isn’t usually calculated this way, but it is often a moment of maximum vulnerability. The social media story is of holidays in the sun, but it is also when people are at their most tired and run down. For the ministers of Christ there can be easy discouragement, tiredness as persistent as toothache and odd lurking fears that we struggle to identify, but which follow us just out of eyeshot, like a designated watcher.
Elijah’s story has a knowing ring to it: how he took on the prophets of Baal in an adrenalin-fuelled encounter, only to collapse in a heap under a tree, in need of waiter only service for several days. Ministry does that to you.
I know each one of you will be in need of rest right now. Some will be able to take a nice holiday; others may not be able to afford this; still others simply can’t take time off. These are realities we should each be sensitive to in friends and colleagues. But I sincerely hope there is rest to be had.
And just bear in mind what God can do while we rest – not simply in us, which I think we all grasp - but specifically in others. It’s often overlooked in the Gospel account, but after Jesus died and was buried, St Luke says that on the sabbath, the women rested according to the commandment. If they had kept busy, they would have gone to anoint Jesus’ body on the Saturday and missed the resurrection on the Sunday. When God calls us to rest, he shows us what he can do while we sit back.
So, at the risk of stating the obvious, I will blunder on with a Buzzfeed-inspired list of six things every worn out minister for Christ should know:
1. It isn’t down to you
2 .It never was
3. But you’ll be amazed to find out just how much God did in and through you one day
4. Because the kingdom of God is drawing inexorably nearer while you get burnt on the beach, read another trashy romance / thriller (take your pick) or drink another over-priced grand crème in some market place you’ll never quite remember
5. Because of the cross and resurrection
6. Because you are personally loved with an utterly unbelievable, universe-busting level of love
And I, for one, have some awe at way that ministers for Christ continue to give their lives away, consciously, very precisely, every day they rouse themselves from sleep.
Obama's Covert Wars
The use of drones is going to change warfare out of all recognition in the next decades.
Through A Glass Starkly
Images of traumatic incidents caught on mobile phone can be put to remarkable effect.
What Are British Values?
Is there a British identity and if so, what has shaped the values and institutions that form it?