Saturday, 8 March 2014

Endings and beginnings

Signs of new life are all around.
And today there's even some sunshine!
Today as I was sitting at my laptop writing my final sermon to be preached tomorrow in my curacy parish, I received an email with the rota for the services in my new one.
It feels odd.
The format is different.
The service pattern is different. 
The other names on it are different (although it really helps that there's a good friend already there - for a while at least) 

It's concrete (or at least paper) evidence of the change that lies before me.

I have long prayed for this change. A new role that allowed my children to stay at their school at least until after public exam courses are over. A context completely different to the one in which I served my title - I'm moving to a much more affluent parish, to churches with large congregations and a growing staff team. A job that will allow me to study and perhaps teach. But having the paper evidence of this change in front of me somehow makes it more real and simultaneously scary and exciting.

There are a lot of challenges in the weeks ahead. Uncertainty over when we might move house is the main one. Reading, thinking and exploring various opportunities for further study is another. I feel like I'm entering into a time of uncertainty, although it seems that much is already settled.

As I was preparing for tomorrow's sermon, I came across some words of Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, who is one of the three people remembered by the Church of England's lectionary today.

“We have taught our people to use prayer too much as a means of comfort – not in the original and heroic sense of uplifting, inspiring, strengthening, but in the more modern and baser sense of soothing sorrow, dulling pain, and drying tears – the comfort of the cushion, not the comfort of the Cross.”

I wonder if I've been thinking more in terms of the comfortable, cushioned road ahead (in spite of previous experience telling me that it is always anything but) instead of the way of the cross. I need reminding that a comfortable life with everything settled is not what Jesus promised his disciples. Change and uncertainty are part of the package. Learning to deal with that will be part of my discipline for Lent.

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