Like most people, I tend to live my life on its circumference. That’s where my identity and happiness are distilled from the roles I play, the aspirations I’ve been taught and my progress so far in reaching those (what I suspect to be) utterly unreachable aims. The circumference is a place where I am supposed to be dissatisfied with who I really am so I can go and be the person I deserve to be.
I am just as prone as anyone to wishing I had trendy facial hair, a good book jacket photo of me looking wise and lots of airplane rides taking me to make keynote speeches because I am “in”. I sometimes wish my congregations were cool and my churches had funky names and cappuccino bars.
I look around my little town, my small congregations, my cold house, my muted ambition and general lack of shininess and reality bites. The grass must be greener somewhere. The house must be warmer somewhere. Distracted by this, I’m vulnerable to missing the moments that truly give life and energy to me.
I had one of those moments last week.
It was at the communion service I lead on Thursday mornings. The 10 attendees are in their sixties or older, they are not Facebook savvy or
glued to their smart phone. Alternative worship means using a different Eucharistic prayer. We would be easily be dismissed as irrelevant by all the trendy keynote speakers I wished I shared a platform with. Glamorous doesn’t describe us. Ever.
I love Thursday mornings. This is a group of experienced Christians who believe there is something still to be learned. They are committed to prayer. They let me practice wacky theological ideas and exegesis on them. They ask questions and make comments. They care deeply about the world around them and the good they can do in it. They are always willing to break the taboo of most Anglican worship and allow real life into the service.
In the intercessions we pray for each other and the world. At this point one woman began to weep. Her husband is in a care home with dementia
and she misses him greatly. This morning, she couldn’t suppress that feeling and she began weeping opening. She was embarrassed because you aren’t supposed to cry in church.
A tear formed at the corner of my eye as we chatted honestly and forgot for a moment that we had a liturgy to get on with. What moved me
even more was the comfort offered by the lady next to her whose husband is in the early stages of dementia. Without a word, she reached over and took the weeping woman’s hand for a moment. She didn’t have to say anything. Her touch said that she was walking the same ground and they’d walk it together.
After awhile, we all dried our eyes and we prayed and shared bread and wine together before going back out into our busy days.
I suspect if I had a shinier job with a big congregation and lots of big moments, I would have missed this. If I spent a lot of time trying to maintain some image of success and greatness, I would have missed this.
In that moment I made a deep realisation that every Thursday morning I am being offered the chance to participate in real life in the presence of God.
Jesus once talked about the Kingdom of God being like a treasure hidden in a field. You stumble over it and just get a glimpse of its value. You go and buy the field so you can dig it up and discover that it is richer than you imagined. My treasure lies in these moments of laughing and weeping. In the buzz of my church school hard at work. In the goofing around with my kids and receiving the love of my wife given so generously to me as a gift. My real calling is to dig a bit deeper in the life I have and find the treasure that God has planted for me to find.