It's been a busy three weeks around here, yes I'm often busy, but the act of sitting down at the computer and writing something (vaguely) coherent (apart from sermons) seems to have escaped me for some time! The only way I could get a thinking blog award for 2008 is if the thinking doesn't go hand in hand with actually writing anything down!
We had a long run of funerals here, not unusual to get a number after Christmas, it does seem that people hold on until after the holidays to let go and the weather often turns which sees and increase in deaths - but this year has been particularly bad, and mainly because a number of these deaths have been unexpected and often tragic. All deaths are terrible in the sense of loss and sadness, but some even more so if it is a younger person or a very sudden death, and we've had a few of those. I think that in a village community it has more impact on the whole community than in the urban and suburban ministry which I have experienced - mainly because (for better or worse) people are so caught up in each others lives in these villages. So there has been a cloud of shock hanging over this village due to a sudden death over Christmas and the loss of a young father who had been struggling with cancer for some time now.
As well as this there have been some particular issues which have taken lots of time and energy to engage with. I've said before that the ministry of the Church of England whilst not unique is quite unusual in that we find ourselves responsible for all people of any faith or none in our pastoral remit - so I often find myself involved with people who have little or no contact with the Church when they find themselves in a place of pastoral need. It is one of the reasons I am committed to the particular (or peculiar) expression of Christian faith which is the Church of England - our very setup is Mission orientated!
By this I meant that Mission is often confused with Evangelism. Evangelism is the particular proclamation of the Christian Gospel which seeks to draw people into a realisation and acceptance of Christian faith. Mission is God's giving of himself (or herself if you prefer) to the world - something which we as human beings are privileged to share in, but something which is very much the work of God in which we have a part. This mission, I believe, goes hand in hand with the proclamation of the Good News of the Christian Gospel, but is greater and wider than it. So when we as Christians reach out, with no strings attached, to serve our communities, we do it because it reflects a God who loves and cares for all people. That love is expressed most fully in the good news of Jesus Christ, but extends beyond a particular and specific expression of gospel truth to a genuine concern for the well being of people who may not call themselves Christian or seek to be a part of the Church. In this sense I am a minister of God's mission but not always an evangelist!
So, a weighty and perhaps seemingly pretentious excuse as to why I've not been blogging, I've been seeking to fulfil a missionary imperative!
I do have some sermons which I want to post, but it will have to wait until I've written one for tomorrow, which is my next order of business...
after this afternoon's funeral visit, of course!