Grand plans and ordinary living. These are the two things that have struck me the most over the last month or so. I have had the delight of being in annual General Church Meetings, reading reports of the many and varied different groups that the churches have. Reading the highlights, hearing the profound stories that go with them, and at the same time the ordinariness of what happens week by week, almost unnoticed apart from by those who engage.
If, we ever set out all of these activities as a Grand Plan for any church right from the beginning, I am sure we would have been told amongst many other comments you can imagine, ‘That’s too adventurous … That’s a bit risky, what if no one turns up … Just who do you think would be willing to give up their time for this, or that …?’ Yet, we do. And they continue to be valuable expressions of our discipleship, activities concerned with our mission and ministry.
These Annual meetings offer us an opportunity to review the year and the life of the Church. They also suddenly make us aware of the sheer numbers of people we have contact with, and they offer us hope and excitement for what the next year will hold. But we don’t think of it in terms of Grand Plans, but ordinary living.
As I write, the Circuit Leadership Team has been considering all the responses to the latest consultation and will be bringing proposals – the fruit of our deliberations, our prayers and our discernment. Will we be offering a Grand Plan? Well, there is no doubt that whatever our proposals are, there are complex issues around limited resources, and that there is also a sense in which the church is rarely static. We are the body of Christ, we do not remain static, we move, we change in a world that changes faster than perhaps some of us would like. We do so, because the Holy Spirit who guides us is not static, but stirs us up and leads us on. What may seem on one day to be a Grand Plan, will become the next ordinary living and we will hear about the movement of God among his people and be amazed.
Grand Plans and Ordinary Living. Sometimes, we may not know the Grand Plan, or indeed care that much, because we live out our discipleship where we are. So when I came across this prayer from some Iona resources it both comforted and challenged, and made me wonder how many of Jesus followers really understood his plan as he travelled and taught? Even in Holy Week, some had still not quite understood. So I offer to you this prayer, that it may speak to all the Grand Plans as well as our ordinary living.
If we met you, Jesus Christ,
we might not think that you were on a mission.
Your talk would be of common and curious things:
lost lambs, lost coins,
paying taxes, hosting a meal,
wise virgins, and foolish house-builders.
We would not know you were on a mission,
we would think you were making sense of life,
lighting up the ordinary, identifying the truth.
When next you look with compassion on the world
and need mission done in your way,
Lord, send us.