Making Mistakes

“We are sometimes crippled by our weakest moments and embrace that weakness as our unalterable fate, but the reality is that ‘there is always time for endurance, time for patience, time for healing, time for change. Have you slipped? Rise up. Have you sinned? Cease’#BasilTheGreat”.

 

I feel like I’ve maybe gone a bit too quiet on the posting front. Life got in the way in the form of lots of work and then a small car accident when I drove into someone else in a lapse of concentration. There were no injuries but it left me feeling shaken up and insecure. I have a habit of beating myself up when things go wrong, something I try to change as I know it feeds into feeling depressed and anxious.

After the car accident I was busy feeling bad and blaming myself when the words above came up on my Twitter feed. I definitely fall prey to thinking that weakness is my unalterable fate at times, and it’s good to be reminded that I’m not the only one who sometimes feels that way, whether it’s about an accident or doing that thing we know we shouldn’t do.

I also found the words of Basil the Great to rise up a helpful call to not sit around and worry about what’s done and can’t be helped but instead to take a deep breath and try again. Every day is a new chance to live, laugh, work and laugh, knowing that the failures and mistakes of yesterday can be forgiven as we go on in God’s grace towards our goal of becoming more like our Lord and Saviour.

 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

                                                            Lamentations 3.22-23

On Small Things: Or a Path to Faith

I’ve been hearing quite a bit about the importance of small things in sowing the seeds of faith.

Sometimes it seems like it’s something we say to convince ourselves that our efforts are worth it when we feel a bit small and unimportant (or maybe that’s just me).

Less cynically, though, I really do think it’s true, based on my own journey into faith.

I grew up in a family which was basically indifferent to religion of any kind. It was never discussed, thought about or considered important.

When I was very young we sometimes went to Midnight Mass but that fizzled out after a while. I remember those few services, though, the light and colour and singing and sense of wonder.

Easter was just a chance for extra chocolate. The idea of going to church would never have crossed anyone’s mind.

There was also a huge old children’s Bible in the house which I think belonged to my grandmother (at least it seemed huge then) and I liked looking at the pictures, although I don’t think I really understood that the stories were meant to be true.

Then, when I was about 9, we moved to a new house and the local primary school was a Church of England one, so I had a couple of years of Christian assemblies and visits to the parish church. It didn’t seem to make any difference at the time as I didn’t really think about it, but I still remember enjoying singing the hymns and looking round at the church.

I was also a Brownie for a short while and then a Guide, and there was some Christianity hanging about in the background then. I remember that the only times I went to church on a Sunday at that time was for parades because I wanted a chance to carry the Brownie or Guide flag up the aisle. I know it sounds shallow, but it was an opportunity to be part of something and have a role.

Then I reached the age of 12 and we moved again – this time to France. This was a lonely and extremely difficult time for me, with no friends, little knowledge of French, problems at home and my sister remaining behind in England.

Sometimes I would go and sit in open churches, just on my own, not knowing anything other than that they were places of peace and refuge.

But it was then, when I was at my lowest point of despair, that I suddenly became aware of God’s loving presence all around me. It’s hard to put into words but I knew at that moment that God was real and loved me.

This was a dramatic moment, but I truly believe it wouldn’t have happened without all the small things that came first.

If I hadn’t had that sense of wonder at Christmas services, some idea of Christian ideas through hymns and school and Guiding, a bit of knowledge of the Bible from playing around with an old book, the chance to just sit and be quiet in a holy place, I don’t know that I would have been able to receive and understand the experience that I had.

And so yes, all the small we things we do as churches and individuals to show love, help others, spread the gospel, serve the community, go into schools and so on – they are important and may bear fruit long after the people doing them are gone.

So:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6.9

A Meditation on Sharing the Peace

I wrote this while doing my training, as a reflection on sharing the peace during a communion service. The picture above shows The Statue of Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral.

 

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5.23-24)

As we look at the picture above we see the cost and comfort of reconciliation. The two figures lean towards each other across a gap caused by many hurts. Each must give up the security of withdrawal to hide the hurt. They can’t pretend the gap isn’t there. Each must trust the other to not turn away and let them fall. Then, in their coming together, they find support, comfort and understanding. The gap between them is beginning to close.

Jesus understood conflict and he understood reconciliation. He does not say pretend there are no conflicts. He says go and be reconciled. He does not say have perfect relationships before you approach me. He says put your relationships right when they go wrong. He asks for honesty. We need honesty to admit it when we are wrong and honesty to admit it when we are hurt. He also asks us to be brave and loving enough to forgive. To close the gap. To genuinely wish peace on all our brothers and sisters. Then we can come and offer our gifts to him together – as one body.

Covenant and Contract

Today I’ve been struck by a comment on how we relate to God.

The comment was that our relationship with God is a covenant, not a contract, and that the two are different.

A contract involves saying “you do this for me and I’ll do this for you”, while a covenant says “I belong to you and you belong to me”.

If someone fails to live up to their part of a contract it’s considered broken and becomes null and void.

Both sides must stick to the terms for it to work and remain valid.

We can disrupt a covenant by failing to meet expectations but we still basically belong to each other.

Even if one side doesn’t hold up their end of things the covenant remains and the other side still holds on to it.

I’ve always kind of imagined that contract and covenant are just different words for the same thing but hearing covenant explained like this gives me a sense of joy and freedom that a contract can’t provide.

It gives confidence that no matter how many times I stumble and fall God remains committed to our relationship.