Friday, 11 March 2016

Joining in!

This week the Book Group at AFC discussed Nicholas Holtam's book about his time as Vicar of St Martin in The Fields, 'A Room with a View'.

I rather like Holtam's definition of 'mission' which he shares with us in the Introduction: Mission is really about looking for what God is doing in the world and joining in'.

There is sometimes a lot of angst around the agenda item 'Mission' when it crops up in church committees.  In our 'pro-active' way we like to have projects and strategies in place because then we think we are somehow fulfilling the Great Commission.  Yet I wonder if we are leaving enough room for God to surprise us.

This time last week I was chairing a Trustees' Meeting in central London for a national organisation and we were looking (rather creatively it has to be said) at our 'Business Plan'.  We have many boxes on this master document that we fill in throughout the year helping us keep tract of our progress in reaching some of our goals.  Yet perhaps there ought to be an additional box - not filled in but left blank headed; God's Surprises.

That's because it seems to me that God often works as much despite us as through us.  We can plan and plan - indeed I freely admit I'm a planner by nature - yet God has the habit of being untidy and working outside our best laid strategies.

A colleague of mine goes on Sabbatical next month.  She has, I think quite wisely, left a lot of gaps in her programme - she hasn't over-planned.  She will go on retreat, visit projects that interest her and do some of that 'stuff' that has been on the 'wish list' for years but never got round to.  But she's also left gaps - believing that just maybe they will be the most important part of the time she spends away from routine - gaps in which God might, or might not speak.

I think Nicholas Holtam, who is now Bishop of Salisbury, was right in his somewhat playful definition of mission because he is essentially urging us to become more AWARE of God's presence and activity in the world and to see it for what it already is - the mission of God in action - and in finding it - let's not reinvent the wheel but join in!

Best wishes,

Ian

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