My dear friends,
Often people liken churches to being like a good ship, sailing on the sea of life, sometimes battered in the storm and at others sailing in still and quiet waters, having God the Father as our safe haven or harbour, God the Holy Spirit as our spiritual lighthouse and Jesus as our Captain. Sometimes people mistakenly think that being a follower of Jesus and allowing him to be our captain means that the sea will forever be calm and tranquil, no storms at all, sadly if only it were. We live in a world were there is freedom of choice, where more and more people look out for number one, themselves and number two their families and blow the rest, they don’t care or want to care in a lot of cases! We live in a world which seeks for easy answers, glib solutions, an accessible escape route when the going gets tough, and actively go away from God seeking what they strive for and want anywhere but with God and certainly not with the church, preferring to think those who need God and/or the church are living in the past, nothing to do with now at best and at worst are horribly and inextricably wrong and everything in between.
So what can we do and how can we answer, truthfully for me, if Jesus didn’t captain my life, the Holy Spirit be my lighthouse and God the Father my safe haven, I’d have been destroyed long ago, crashed and smashed on to the rocks or gone under in the storms of life, nursing a loved one through illness, the loss of someone close, financial worries and more, and I am sure I am not alone in that and still I remain faithful, still I trust, still I believe, still I give my ship to God to steer and guide. That’s not to say, there aren’t disagreements at times, not to have a little tussle over direction or what is happening but ultimately I live my life by trust by letting go and letting God after all God has not promised skies always blue, flower-strewn pathways all our lives through; God has not promised sun without rain, joy without sorrow, peace without pain. God has not promised smooth roads and wide swift easy travel heeding no guide; God has not promised that we shall not bear many a burden, many a care. But God has promised strength for the day, rest for the labour, light for the way, grace for the trials, help from above unfailing sympathy, undying love. (Annie Johnson Flint)
And if that is so of me as an individual then I believe that even more so of our churches, it’s no accident that each has a nave, coming from naval, or that a lot of churches are shaped like and upside down boat, prayer, scripture and the sacraments help provide maps and compasses to help set and plot our courses and follow them even though the temptation is to deviate, think we know better than God. People ask where and how are we going wrong when numbers are falling and costs are rising, when young people opt for football instead of communion or whatever it happens to be, to them I would say, God will see us through, even though it may seem like we’re heading for the rocks, we just have to watch and pray, keep trusting and believing and God will bring us to calmer waters where we may rest awhile and recharge and go on again. But above all to pray, make time with and for God daily and really listening to him, allowing him to guide and strengthen all we do and are, give to us the tools and resources we need. It is no accident then that I am encouraging us to ‘Pledge 2 Pray’ from when Jesus returns to God and sends a helper, praying that he will help us build and be his church, that is the people in this place, and beyond for now and for the future. And in and through him, who knows where and what he may lead and steer our ships towards. Exciting and scary but an adventure nevertheless. I am ready, are you?
Til next time…