Lent 2: Following God
I am writing this in early March during the week of readings for Lent 2 concerning Abraham’s call to follow God at the age of 99 “walk before me. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
In Romans the reader is reminded of this call to Abraham and how he responded in faith.
In the Gospel reading Peter was rebuked for having the mind of man and not of God. Jesus taught his disciples to take up their cross to follow him. “If anyone loses his life for my sake he will save it”
What does it mean to lose our lives and to walk before God? Can you think of a time when you did the right thing even though it felt like losing your life? As we join together as eight churches we face ‘losing’ parts of our worshipping lives for the sake of working together as one benefice with one priest. Can we take up our cross and lose our lives for Jesus Christ’s sake, so that he will save them as we walk before him as Abraham was called to do so?
I have prayed and thought long and hard about our shared future. In order to learn to know each parish well, I would like to spend quality time with each parish, one at a time, even though that means not being with other parishes quite as much to start with. A period of several months where I can meet every church member, every local organisation, as many of you who live in the parish as possible. A time of worshipping with you each week and of prayerfully seeking God’s unique call upon you as a parish. Just like every person has God’s call upon their life, so every church congregation has a unique call. It may be as a place of retreat or refreshment or pilgrimage, it may be for healing or pastoral care or support, it may be to befriend prisoners or link with overseas missions or develop a ministry in a housing estate. Or it could be something we’ve never dreamed of but God is calling us into as we walk with him.
As we walk with God together we will listen to his call and learn how to respond. It doesn't matter if, like Abraham, we are 99 years old, or like Peter in the Gospel reading we have to learn how to listen to God. When God calls us he supplies everything we need - the direction, the funds, the energy, the people, the blessing. If we are willing to pray and allow him in, he will lead us and call us to walk with him. Are you willing?
I am grateful to your church wardens who have agreed to walk with Nicki and I as we pray and work together. We would like every church and community to flourish and grow in Christ. As we do so, Nicki and I have committed to follow together a ‘Rule of Life’, that is, a commitment to put into place in our own lives some Christ-like values. They encompass a commitment to daily prayer and to reading Scripture, to a weekly ‘sabbath’ - time set aside for God. They include putting into practice in our own lives the biblical principles of learning, giving, celebrating the importance of family or friends, living a healthy lifestyle. They emphasise fruitful collaboration, healthy relationships, grace-filled accountability and loving service. These values may be ones that you would like to share with us and adopt as well. We shall be exploring them further in the coming months.
Please do pray with us as we discern a way forward. Please do share your own thoughts and ideas. This is truly a shared call to follow God.
May God bless you this Eastertide,