It’s an eternal question, a question that divides friends and families. When eating a cream tea what goes on the scone first? Are you a Devon devourer or a Cornwall consumer?
I’m going to suggest something rather disturbing; as long as you get the cream tea it doesn’t matter which goes on first, cream or jam!
The reason I say this is, we are all individuals (cue the Monty Python fan). One of the blessings of our life is that we are not all cut from the same mould. We know this to be true but so often we behave as though others aren’t allowed to have differing opinions, preferences and taste than us.
It happens in many areas of life. I see it in education with the reintroduced of exam only GCSE’s and more emphasis on end of year tests rather than year long teacher appraisal.
We are not immune from it in our churches and our worship either. Some of us would never consider going to a ‘happy, clappy’ church others would stay away from ‘bells and smells’. In my own personal faith journey I have spent periods of time in many types of church and experiencing many styles of worship and the one thing I can say about all of them is this; “where two or three are gathered together in the name of Jesus then he is in the midst of them” (ref. Matthew 18 vs20).
There is much to learn from the experiences and opinions of others, much to learn too by trying something a different way. At Holy Trinity church the congregation there will be experiencing a little of this during my sabbatical. Different priests with different styles and differing ways of saying the same words all adds to the wonder of what it means to be Children of God; made in His image and yet wonderfully individual.
And remember. As long as you get the cream tea then cream first or jam first doesn’t matter, the taste may be slightly different but all the ingredients are there and at the end you’ve still had the pleasure of a cream tea.
Many blessings to you all – I think I might go and find a small tea room somewhere to confirm my theory………
Another Monday on holiday finds me led on the beach. A long day before me with not much to do within in. Wonderful!
And as I soaked up some sunshine I thought back to an incident that had piqued my questioning yesterday.
I attended the morning service at the church of St. Edward, Martyr & King, Corfe Castle. The service was one of Matins (morning prayer). It’s been a while since I attended a service of Matins and the leader of the service began by reminding us all that the words of the service, the prayers we said and the chants we sung, were over 400yrs old and had; “stood the test of time.”
It wasn’t too long before the long forgotten words came back to me and, towards the end of the service, we said a prayer that I remembered from my choir boy days when I thought that God was a novelist and an aircraft enthusiast:
O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord,
in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life,
whose service is perfect freedom;
defend us thy humble servants in all assaults of our enemies;
that we, surely trusting in thy defence,
may not fear the power of any adversaries;
through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Putting my choir boy humour aside, yesterday it was the phrase; “whose service is perfect freedom.” that jogged my though process.
“Do I truly believe that service to God gives me perfect freedom?”
“What does it mean to have perfect freedom in God’s service?”
“Do I live my life in a way that demonstrates perfect freedom in God’s service?”
These are only questions at the moment, things I will be thinking about more as I get deeper into my time away.
But, one thing I am convinced about, one thing I have experienced in my past, is that I can trust in God’s defence and therefore not fear any adversary in life:
- Whether that be a difficult working relationship where people seem to be working against rather than with me.
- Whether it be situations outside of my control but the implications of which directly affect myself and my family.
- Or whether it be the eternal battle of Good vs Evil that is played out in my personal life, the nation or on the international scene.
- Or even the depression of mind and body that I have more recently been battling.
I do not fear that I will be overcome by any adversary because I can trust in God’s defence.
And so I can lie on the beach and relax.
My sabbatical doesn’t officially start until 22nd of this month but as I sat in our healing service on Sunday I was reminded of something I learnt some time ago, I knew I’d never remember it for 3 weeks and so I’ll write my first blog now.
About 8 years ago I was on a training weekend and we were asked the question; “If you are driving and you want to make the car go faster what do you do? ” The answer most of us gave was; “Put your foot harder on the accelerator.”
This is true, this action does make your vehicle go faster, it was described to us as a first order change. The pressing harder on the accelerator affects the speed immediately.
We were then told that although our answer seemed correct, it wasn’t the most efficient way of making the car go faster.
It might seem counter intuitive but the best way to increase the speed of a vehicle is to let your foot off the accelerator! You then press the clutch in, change the gear and then press down on the accelerator again.
This was described as a second order change. The initial action, letting off the gas, doesn’t affect the speed as you intend it to but changing gear and then pressing down means a greater potential for increased speed.
This analogy then was explained that; if the parish is busy, if you are working hard but not completing everything then a first order change would mean not having a day off that week, working every evening and missing out on family time.
A second order change might be having an additional day off in a week to study and pray, make sure that at least two evenings a week are free for family time.
I’m hoping that my sabbatical time will be a second order change :- refreshing and renewing me and my ministry to better equip me for the future.
In the mean time, on holiday today I have been building shoe racks out of sticks and then starting fires.