This week’s lections are here
In my parishes we’ll be celebrating the arrival of a new deacon, ordained just 2 days ago – and so our readings are quite a gift.
I have quite a dodgy relationship with Paul, but I think this time we’ll be working with the Epistle.
Though the glories of the ordination service (16 new deacons presented to a packed Cathedral whose ancient stones have seen such celebrations countless times before) might have seemed like a foretaste of heaven – even they can’t really compare with the experience that Paul describes (or rather, tries not to).
But the pattern is the same…An experience of intense and awe-inspiring holiness, and then…….woomph………down to earth with a bump.
We don’t know what Paul’s thorn is, whether a physical defect of some kind or an individual who made his life miserable, – but we do know that his appeals for relief were denied.
God told him, in as many words, that this was a gift…a way of ensuring that he, Paul, does not become a celebrity himself but relies for his vindication on God alone.
“My power is made perfect in weakness”
That’s the same agenda that we find in the gospel, as the twelve are sent out, empty-handed, to begin their ministry.
If I’m feeling very brave I might use these texts to issue a gentle challenge to my congregations, loaded as we are with buildings, committees and structures of all kinds.
Would we dare to just go – depending on God?
There’s another clear track in the gospel, of course;the question of familiarity breeding contempt. My curate has been moved from the parishes where he grew up, so that he can engage in a new way with fresh people. The system protects him from becoming a prophet without honour in his own country…but as we dig roots down deep into our faith communities, as we become known by those to whom we minister, I wonder if we find our prophetic edge dulled – by what they know of us, as well as what we know of them. There’s a challenge for pastors – to be fully known and yet to be heard and respected…
Early musings on a very muggy Tuesday…I’m longing to hear where you’re heading this week.