Striving – & Limping

Holy God – in this precious hour, we pause
and gather to hear your word –
to do so, we break from our work responsibilities
and from our play fantasies
we move from our fears that overwhelm
and from our ambitions that are too strong.
Free us in these moments from every distraction,
that we may focus to listen,
that we may hear, that we may change. Amen.

– Walter Brueggemann

In these last few weeks, I have been inclined towards reflection. I have pondered change and its consequences; I have thought about what call means, in terms of our discipleship. I have considered some of its costs.

Slivers of beloved poetry and prose have found their way from my memory, about journey, new paths and change. I am hopeful that this new call in ministry will offer me opportunities to serve God in new ways and to bring my particular gifts to bear in the life of God’s church.

There is also cause for sadness, as with almost every ending.

I have loved serving in ministry at Southside.

I have loved sharing in worship and care and small groups and thinking things through and watching people grow and welcoming new folk and sharing meals and coffee and art and shovelling mulch and curly questions and decorating the sanctuary and planning for the future (even when it kept stalling and changing direction) and breaking bread and sharing wine and praying with and for people and working out our faith in Jesus Christ as a cluster of disciples.

Thank you for our time together.

Jacob’s story has held some fascination for me since college; it is the story about his wrestle in the dark (with God) which holds me most firmly. The agile trickster plays his last cards in this event and remains marked forever. The story ends with Jacob, freshly named and no longer agile, as he limps into his new future of reconciliation with his brother, Esau.

Discipleship marks us, sometimes even wounds us. This is not a palatable idea, as we live in a world where we have striven for comfort and security, where our lives are more comfortable than ever before.

In one breath we proclaim our ancestors in faith who served and died as witnesses to Jesus; in our next breath, we eschew any call to discipleship which may discomfort us.

We translate ‘cost’ into dollars and cents, while whittling our sense of call so it fits into the appropriately shaped hole. I’m confident it has ever been thus, which is why Jesus keeps talking about it.

I am confident that Jacob’s limp is inherent to his blessing by God, even though it is not the one which Jacob expected when he asked. Once Jacob was blessed in this way, his sidestep was not so prominent and he needed to face things properly.

He also needed to trust God more and his craftiness (dodgy dealing?) less.

Leaving Southside is costly for me, but the grief of leaving is a blessing for the ministry I have ahead of me – shared service, shared hope, shared lives.

I also believe it is an opportunity for Southside in new areas of ministry. This is a time of possibility for Southside, exploring new lay ministries, like Suzanne’s, as well as calling a new minister to placement. There is the creation of a new team, with Rev. Chris Wright at City, and – hopefully – a Young Families Worker alongside the placements at City & Southside and St. Andrew’s Village.

Grace and peace for the wrestling ahead, my sisters and brothers!

Simon

 

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