Counting stars

So I’ve been feeling pretty smug recently as I’m finally pursuing this course of becoming a vicar, and I’m meeting lots of lovely people, and learning about new and challenging topics. It’s all pretty wild- my new day off I think is going to be a Tuesday or Thursday which feels slightly unlikely after working a 9-5 Mon-Fri for the last 20 years or so!

Me and the kids are going to be joining in new activities, and it’s all fab. Except of course, noone is going to be paying me my lovely NHS salary once a month anymore! I’m lucky to receive a grant during training and will be in receipt of extra benefits, so it’s not all fine, but I have been feeling slightly like my side of the bargain is pretty strong negotiating position.. until Friday!

On Friday I was sitting in church which was open for prayer, and I had a picture of the stars shifting, turning like the side of a globe… it seemed like God was trying to say, look mate, I created the universe, the stars, the planets, you may or may not be in my good books, but you are still one speck in the whole of creation!

It’s also becoming increasingly clear to me that whilst my new vocation will allow me to spend much more time thinking about, talking and discussing god, it doesn’t make me any more loved or special. That’s because like the way I love my children, there is no more love to earn. Sometimes I impose conditions on my kids, like “bed time now, or there is no computer tomorrow” but it’s not like they will be any more loved as a result. I’ve learnt the hard way that any relationship or friendship where conditions are attached, is not worth bothering with.

There are no reward points on my “Godcard”, there is no Fast Track to Jesus, there is no tally of deeds done, it’s just basically that God loves me, as he’s always done. The only difference is that he’s got a new role in mind for me, but that’s it! Each of us serves in our own unique way, whether as accountants, politicians, traffic wardens or nurses, so there is no score board, and no ladder to climb.For years I think I’ve put priests and vicars on something of a pedestal, and although it’s a big sacrifice in many ways serving God in this way, it’s also a real privilege, and honour.

I’m working for our maker, the one who created the stars, but I’m not going to be able to count them any more than anyone else. Turns out this is an issue many people have thought about over the years

Psalm 8 v 1-5

 

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in the whole earth!

You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
You have made sure that children
    and infants praise you.
Their praise is a wall
    that stops the talk of your enemies.

I think about the heavens.
    I think about what your fingers have created.
I think about the moon and stars
    that you have set in place.
What are human beings that you think about them?
    What is a son of man that you take care of him?
You have made them a little lower than the angels.
    You placed on them a crown of glory and honor.

 

Showstoppers

So I’ve started my ordination training! I’m really excited about it all and trying to get my head into new ways of doing things. I am going to be learning about the history of the Bible, over 3000 years ago in some places.Today was my first day at my new placement and we heard about spiritual gifts. I’m thinking about this at the moment, as I have been investigating prophesy, as I get pictures from God. The message though was more about appreciating the gifts God’s specifically given you and not wrapping them up and putting them away because they weren’t on your original “wishlist”, or mourning the gifts you’ve never had. If God’s given them to you, then it’s probably for a reason.Even if they don’t seem relevant or interesting now, then at some point you will probably need to dust them off and get to like them again. Also by focusing on the gaps in your life, you put extra pressure on yourself and your self-esteem, spiritual life or relationships.

Having  a change in routine I have to say is really refreshing and if there is any small part of your life you can try doing differently this autumn I’d really recommend it- whether it’s trying a new style of clothing, going  to  different place on holiday, or taking the bike instead of the car to work, walking instead of cycling, or fasting instead of feasting. The options are pretty endless. My son is hooked on mine-craft, and I definitely won’t have much luck getting him to play something else, but I might suggest it!

Using a mine-craft analogy though,  it’s about glorifying the tiny bit of diamond ore, God has put in you, and making that shine, rather than waiting until you have more diamonds to make something major like a sword, as God can polish up the small stuff and the seemingly worthless bits, as well as the “show-stoppers”.

Meeting all the other people on my course, it seemed like we were all so different, and will all have different things to share with each other as well as learning from the lecturers.None of us probably see ourselves as show-stoppers, but in God’s hands we can be.

Paul who wrote many of the letters and chapters of the New Testament paid for his travels by making tents, and this was only possible because the native land he grew up in, was famous for it’s goats hair, which was used then for tent making. So God’s purpose was worked out for centuries of Christians to inherit, supported by the trade in goats hair tents at the time Paul was writing! Without the Romans the message Paul was sharing would also have been impossible to pass on, as they introduced a network of formal trading route which aided communication.

The only thing we have to do is show up, and not shrink away from using the gifts we are given, and we can also be bold in asking for spiritual gifts

“God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts and yet I will show you the most excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12 v28-31