There are some days I find myself preoccupied, thinking about family, or money, or the things I need to remember to do. People are often more willing to comment on how I look than they would be if I was anybody else. Strangers will comment on my appearance with a familiarity usually reserved for family and friends. From time to time, on the occasion when I am very preoccupied, it’s been commented that I should cheer up! I’m not showing the appropriate smile.
When I was briefly working in procurement at Airbus, buying bits of aircraft from suppliers in the United States. A new leader took over the team and gave me some good advice about leading groups. He pointed out that whatever mood he was in, it was always important to lead a team meeting with some energy and enthusiasm. If the team leader wasn’t enthusiastic, what hope was there that the team would be. While that obviously needs to be balanced with a sense of honesty, empathy and humility, it was good advice.
Having that enthusiasm and energy is dependent on having a vision for the way things could improve. Having that sense of vision for the future is important throughout our life, to keep us going when things aren’t the way we want them to be; whether it’s a big vision for some new initiative or job or project, or a small one around carving out time for ourselves or our loved ones, or having a break from work or going away. Having a vision can keep us going through more difficult or frustrating times.
Sometimes those visions need to sustain us for long periods of time. I was reminded this past week of Mother Theresa – how, having received her calling to serve the poor from God, she was then left in silence, praying, but hearing nothing from the God whom she was serving. That vision, that sense of call, needed to sustain her and her ministry through many silent years, year without affirmation that she was doing the right thing.
The feast of the Transfiguration actually falls in August, but we hear this story on this last Sunday before Lent each year because of the vision it gives us, to sustain us through the coming days and weeks. The transfiguration of Christ, the change in the appearance of his face, the dazzling white of his clothes, the appearance of Elijah and Moses, are all foreshadowing of Christ’s resurrection and ascension. When Christ will glorify God in his resurrected body and when Christ will join with all the patriarchs and prophets in the kingdom of God.
As we spend Lent reflecting on how we fail Christ, as we take on discipline to help us focus on the God who creates us, as we recognise the gloom of the world we live in and the part we play in maintaining that sorrow. We hold in our hearts this vision of a better future. Of a God so full of grace that we know he has sent his son that we may be freed from all our fears. From all our preoccupations. As Peter gets the wrong end of the stick and decides that this mountain would be a nice place to stay, set up an encampment and hide away from the difficulties of the world. We hear the voice of God saying: ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ It has an echo of the voice we hear when Jesus is baptised, saying (in Luke’s telling of events): ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ But it is also a reminder to us of what we can hold on to when things are difficult, that Christ will lead us if we can but listen to him.
So, while I don’t beat myself up for being preoccupied, I do try, reflecting on the grace of God and spending time in prayer, to come out the door each day and greet people with a smile on my face.
This past week, following on from motions from deanery synods across the Edmonton area, the Diocesan Synod passed a motion relating to gun and knife incidents in London. There is a growing concern among many about the number of our young people who come into contact with weapons and violence on our streets. Since the motion was passed there has been another fatal knife incident in a park in East London. One could understandably question what the diocese of London passing a motion is really going to do. In fact when the motion was debated in our deanery one criticism was that it didn’t include enough clear action. But even just holding a vision, a hope of a better tomorrow is an important part of what we can do. And if we hold that vision and hope in our prayer, it will, I believe, inevitably drive us into action. It will enable us to discern where others are responding to those same needs and come alongside them.
A few weeks ago in a sermon I asked the congregation to reflect on what we had to offer as a church and what Good News for Child’s Hill would be. Your answers, or at least the summary of them, is in a poster on the back wall. Through Lent I want us to pray about these things, to reflect on how we as the church in this place hold a vision of hope in the face of the gloom and sorrow. How we can come alongside those who can be our partners in bringing the Good News. So that we can hold a mirror up to our community and they can see themselves transfigured by the light of God.
The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams
8.00am Said Eucharist in the lady chapel
10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School
Said Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00am
Monday through Thursday at 5.30pm
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