“I try to remember that walking in the will of God might mean waiting as much as it might mean moving forward.” Tessa Afshar,
Being in leadership in a church or church community or church plant has many challenges. One of the greatest, though equally one which needs most sensitivity, is on the theme of ‘Waiting’. Though we’re told to ‘wait on the Lord’ we often forget this and bemoan the fact that God isn’t working on my timeline!! This can be seen in many aspects of church life in things like changing – liturgy (types of service), times of services ( this ones always fun!!), in pastoral care, some never want to leave church and simply pray for that strange world outside the church doors yet others want to leave the church behind and knock down everyone’s doors who live in the community and force feed them the ‘good news’. Then there’s governance and leadership, we have those who find any change after the first edition of the B.C.P scandalous and those who would throw out everything that is connected with traditional church life to offer contemporary people something new etc. Church ministers see a pattern in church life.
A lot of the things I’ve mentions play out in every parish and to a point I think the ‘creative tension’ of the two sides is good, great even if the Holy Spirit is rooted in that ‘creative chaos’. Though if it’s simply the ego of certain members then it’s simply sad or at worse dangerous. At this time in the life of our United Benefice and in fact of our world we have to wait. We have no choice. To push church life or use of our building could literally be the death of someone (or of many people). So often this tension of needing to do anything is more a male trait. My father in law was just like this when our first child was born – Sharon’s mum came and just sat and helped this new life who was so small. But her dad felt he needed to do jobs. Normally that’s great but there’s only so much DIY you can do!! As Christians we have to stop and wait. We have to live in this very difficult present time. It’s hard. Someone asked me if I was stocking up on sermons at the moment. The answer is no. For when would I use them!! I’m like you, I’m waiting. Christian waiting = trusting in the God of love and providence. Or as David Samples put it : “Here is what I know to be true: messed up men will often panic and try to control the chaos. Waiting is one of the hardest spiritual disciplines. Waiting is spelled T-R-U-S-T.”
Now, not wanting to be sexist do we all find ‘waiting’ difficult? Do we realise that God is calling us to love, to trust and to have faith that in the end ‘all shall be well’ as Mother Julian of Norwich said? In June we are likely to see more cases of Covid 19 and sadly more deaths. So instead of rushing into a time of non lock – down we all need to see waiting and separating and respecting distance as a virtue, both a Christian virtue and also a human virtue, and not to see this as a ‘waste’ of time etc. but as an act of love for the elderly, the sick and the people in the danger zone. May God give us Grace to spend time in waiting and being still. So, dear friends as we wait to see what the future holds for our communities, our places of worship and work, our pubs and eateries, our social groups – Let us trust that God walks with us and he loves us and he’ll never leave us. God bless you all, I leave you with the words of the Psalmist.
Psalm 130:5-6 “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.”
Love & Prayers,
Revd. Stephen Monk