Thought for the week, 29th August; Singing our song.
The life of faith has challenges. We are called to be citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven and to reject the values of this world. Jesus spoke of how we are called to pick up our own cross to follow him; Paul, who endured much hardship in his ministry, spoke of how we are to be living sacrifices.
But Jesus also said that his yoke was easy, his burden was light. I think by that he meant we were not to be governed by the clutter of religious rules and regulations that put so many obstacles between God and ordinary people. And Paul and the other leaders of the early church were also aware that we are not called to carry an unbearable burden. As a fellow vicar once said to me in one of my more idealistic moods; remember Jesus was crucified for us so we don’t need to be. In his letter to the Romans, Paul tells his readers that they cannot excel in every Christian virtue, in every form of Christian service. Not everyone is called to be a leader, a teacher, a servant. Each one of us is called to some form of Christian service, something where our faith guides us and so marks us out as followers of Jesus, but we are not expected to do the lot. Paul is actually being tremendously affirmative of the quiet life of faith that most of us lead. We are not called to stand on street corners to preach the Gospel, to embrace poverty, chastity and obedience, to spend all our waking hours praying and studying.
About 20 years ago, a priest called Francis Dewar wrote a book for those considering ordination called “Collared or cornered?”. His central message was that everyone has a gift that as Christians they are called to share; ordination can actually get in the way of that. He had a wonderful phrase; God has given each of us a song to sing. Our job is to try and find what that is, so that people can hear us and see that we are Christians when we sing it our way, as nobody else will be able to do.