From Rev. Anna Bishop
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I have been so touched by how many of you have taken me aside over the past few weeks to say things like: “Make sure you don’t take too much on!” “You must take care yourself as well!” or “Make sure you are not doing too much!”I am so moved by your love and care and powerfully reminded that ministry is a mutual exercise: we look after each other.
And so I want to say those very same words of love to all of you! And to all of us as a church!
Back in February Revd.Jane Taylor challenged us to ask ourselves, “Who sets our agenda?” and “Are we doing too much?” I myself know the cost of doing too much and I’m aware that many of you have also suffered a sense of depletion and depression from constantly doing good, without pause to rest and receive. And I know that when I get into this state it is always because I have been trying to set my own agenda. We are all, as Jane reminded us, often our own worst enemies.
What a contrast is Paul’s exhortation to us to “…be transformed by therenewing of your minds…” (Romans 12: 2) The latent linguist in me notes that this verb of transformation is in the passive voice.The purpose of our discipleship is transformation, but we do not do that transformation ourselves. It has to be done to us!
I suspect many of you have heard C. S. Lewis’s allegory about the drowning man who cannot be saved, because he struggles so violently and clutches and grabs frantically at his rescuer. We do not like having things done to us –even things that are for our own good. (As I write this I am aware I have a dentist’s appointment looming!) We do not like to be passive receivers. We much prefer to be active and in control.
And yet, I have found that the wilderness periods of greatest inactivity, the times of beingconfronted with my own unsuccessfulness and of coming to terms with being thoroughly dispensable, have been the periods of greatest transformation! “Godturns adesertinto pools of water,a parched land into springs of water.” (Psalm 107:35)
This Lent, perhaps we are called into the desert place of not doing (or at least reducing our doing), so that it might become a space for recognising what God is doing to us and in us