Posted by: Postordinandy | January 18, 2010

Marking a new stage on the journey

We have started the New Year by looking together at the Gospel of Mark. The plan is that we’ll read a couple of chapters in the week, and share those things that have got us thinking each time we meet.

When we looked at chapters 1 & 2 a few things clamoured for our attention:

– how fast-paced these two chapters appear

– Jesus’ readiness to minister to individuals in different, but powerful, ways

– Jesus’ ability to see things as God the Father sees them, and act accordingly

– the potential relationship between temptation and ministry

St Luke’s in the High Street has existed in our present incarnation for just over 2 years now. By most standards and understanding of ‘new forms of church’ we are still babes in arms, gurgling and puking. We are faced with two equal and opposite temptations as we enter 2010 (plus countless others, no doubt!):

1) To run before we can walk – we are young, immature, lacking in knowledge and experience. We will make mistakes, we cannot do everything, we must allow time for relationships and ministries to develop at an appropriate pace; we must be realistic in what we can, and cannot, do. Many studies of ’emerging church’ movements suggest that it can take 5, 7, 10 years for a project such as ours to have an impact and/or discover its’ true shape.

2) To accept our limitations, and in doing so limit God – The opening chapters of Mark, and the fact that, (as far as we can tell), Jesus himself only practised his ministry for around 3 years, indicate that God can and does move at a fast pace. By the end of chapter 2, Jesus has been baptised & tempted; has chosen some fairly unlikely disciples; has healed a good number of people; and has challenged the religious leadership of his day over some fairly significant points of theology and practice. He did at least allow himself a brief break to pray and rest – although he had to get up at a silly time of the morning to fit it in!

How are we to avoid these two challenges? It seems to me that the only way we have half a chance to get through is to take seriously the reality that we are not on our own. We must be accountable both to each other and the wider community (both believers and others). We must learn to listen to those who encourage us to push on and those who advise us to take stock; to those who praise the things we are able to do and those who ask us to recognise our limitations; to those who counsel caution and risk-taking. Ultimately, of course, it is God – not us – who will change both ourselves and those we work alongside.

It is our hope that 2010 will be a significant year for us. If you pray, please ask God to help us take appropriate risks this year, to help us see the things that He wants us to respond to, and to have the courage to do so.

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