Monday, 6 February 2017

I can fit you in in three weeks for four minutes.....

The facebook statuses, the tweets and the messages are sent.....

This weekend I preached 14 times, had 32 meetings, wrote a 4000 word article, drank 102 cups of coffee, laughed, cried and comforted the congregation I love and answered 762 e-mails. I love it. I am so blessed to do the job I do.

Let me just look at my diary..... I have a twelve minute gap a week on Wednesday. Will that do you? My diary is so full. I am so blessed to do the job I do. 

I'm sorry, I don't have a day off until 2024. I love my job so much I want to work every second of every minute of every hour of every day. I am so blessed to do the job I do. 

I haven't been able to speak for seven weeks and my eyes are so swollen I can hardly see your face, but, no, I can't have a day off, how could I? I am so blessed to do the job I do.

And the people respond.....

Wow, that's amazing, look at how busy you have been - you must be a super-minister.... a minister with amazing super-powers. God is clearly using you - you are able to do so much..... isn't it wonderful! How blessed are you?

Now I am not saying I am not guilty of not having a day off when I am ill.... but seriously.... ?

Working yourself to the bone is not what you are called to do.

Filling your diary with meetings is not what you are called to do. 

Not having a Sabbath is not what you are called to do. 

Not resting is not what you are called to do. 

Every now and again I am reminded of the busyness competition that happens in ministry (and, I am sure, in other jobs too - in teaching the busyness bragging was just the same). So often the only space we can squeeze in meetings is over lunch, the one-up-personship conversation on who has worked the most hours, the record for the number of preaches in one Sunday, the squeezing of so many things in the day that arriving late to a meeting is a sign of our wonderful busyness and not our inefficient diary tardiness.... 

This is not a sign of blessing, but a sign there is something wrong somewhere.......because Sabbath rest is a gift from God that completes creation and is not an add on when we can manage it. 

To fit into society's idea of efficient-ness we bow down to the culture of always doing and never being. What are we doing? 

Following Jesus is counter-cultural, it is a way of being and a way of living that is a call to be different - to have a different focus - to go in his way. This is Jesus, who, although he preached and spent a lot of time travelling from place to place, also made time to sit down and eat with friends and to sit and watch the world around him before he responded to what was going on. This is Jesus who took himself out of a situation so he could spend time with his Father. This is Jesus who slept when a storm raged around him. This is Jesus who gathered community in the midst of getting out his urgent message. 

I am so blessed to do the job I do - not because I can fill my days with meetings and speedy preaching preparation, but because I am given a generous gift of time to think and time to pray and time to hang about so that I can try to lead and build community in the way of Christ. 

We're just about to embark on a new sermon series on Slow Church - time and time again I come back to this and I'm challenged to remember that it's not about business models or a series of seven steps to work my way through, but is about the way of God's Kingdom.... which takes us on his journey.... not a rushed, busy journey where there is no time for engagement with the community, but a patient and incarnational journey that cultivates community the Christ way. 

"We are impatient, anxious to see the whole picture, but God lets us see things slowly, quietly. The church [has] to learn how to wait" - Pope Francis (quoted in Slow Church, p21)