|Pen and Ink Reflections||
The bible reading (from John chapter 14) we just heard is particularly appropriate for today. For we say a final farewell to two people, who, individually, and together, shared a house of love – a dwelling together in deep faith, in which there were indeed many rooms, and in which peace and joy flourished. Indeed, literally, they nurtured one house in Market Rasen for 50 years, in which so much love and hospitality was shared by others...
When I was young, parts of the country in which I grew up literally blew away. Living in Lincolnshire, one of England’s greatest agricultural counties, I could see this whenever I traveled. For I grew up as a child at the time of the greatest destruction of England’s hedgerows, many of them very ancient. Indeed, hedgerows are, as the Campaign to Protect Rural England has put it, ‘the most widespread semi-natural habitat in England’, and, more poetically, ‘the vital stitching point in the patchwork quilt of the English countryside’.1 They not only provide character, but essential life to all kinds of creatures, and help protect the soil itself without which there can be no sustainable farming yields. As a child however, I would see such features regularly ripped away, and a vast desert of landscape created, with vital topsoil whirling up in dust storms and carried away. Such soil frequently blinded us, reflecting the blinkered industrialised agricultural thinking which had produced it. It was an early lesson to me of how if we mistreat the land out of which we come and are fed, we also destroy ourselves. How then are we to live, without seeking the forgiveness of the land itself, and renewing creation together?...
When are where did you receive a ‘call’ to a new ministry in the Church? Did it come gradually upon you, or was there a particular turning point? For what it is worth, in my case it has probably happened over a period of time. However I do remember getting on a train in rural Lincolnshire to travel to Birmingham to stay with some friends. Such a cross-country journey can often be a little grueling, for UK train lines which do not involve London are typically less speedy and more complicated. So it was that five hours of stop and starts provided me with plenty of time for reflection, at the end of which a new sense of vocation had been planted in me. If Margaret Thatcher had no time for the old nationally owned British Rail, God clearly did! In what way though, if any, do our own calls to ministry compare with those of the disciples in today’s Gospel (Luke 5.1-11)?...