Curate’s Corner - July
When I began my curacy just 12 months ago, one of the things I was looking forward to was writing a short article each month for the parish magazine, reflecting on life as a curate and how the experience of ministry was changing me and my outlook on life. This was the brief I had received and, with one or two exceptions, I have enjoyed the discipline each month of putting metaphorical pen to paper and sharing my thoughts on a variety of subjects.
I never imagined, however, that I would find myself writing an article reflecting on the impact of the death of our parish priest, and my training incumbent. That wasn’t part of the deal. I don’t feel equipped to offer the right words or to try to express the pain and hurt of the parish. How can I convey the mix of emotions, the anguish and the pain that so many people have felt in light of Fr Martin’s sudden and tragic death?
Well, I have realised that no one has all the right words and knows exactly what the right thing to do is. We just have to do the best we can with what we have. We muddle through and hope that what we say, what we do, will be enough; that it will offer some sort of comfort or clarity in the confusion and grief.
But that’s OK. God can work with anything.
I have to believe that, because I know my own shortcomings and I know my inadequacies, and yet here I am, called to serve the people of Uckfield for my curacy, and now called to walk with you this painful, confusing and difficult journey. But it’s not because I have all the right skills, nor is it because I’ve got lots of relevant experience, or any of those sorts of reasons. I don’t know why God called me to serve my curacy here, but I believe he has and I trust that he will equip me to do so as best I can.
That’s really what I want to share with you in these brief words.
None of us is perfect. None of us has all the answers. But with God’s help we can muddle through and at times, who knows, we may even make a half-decent job of things! We all have our short-comings, those things we know we struggle with, those things which are perhaps outside our “comfort zone”. But God calls us out of our comfort zone and it’s in those uncomfortable places where he can shape us, mould us, transform us into the people he wants us to be.
By definition it’s an uncomfortable place to be, but it’s where we are able to be the potter’s clay that Isaiah refers to; it’s where we are transformed by God working in us, that we might be more fully the person God wants us to be.
We remain confused, upset, disbelieving even; how do we make sense of such a tragic loss? There are so many more questions than there are answers. But we must bring those questions to God. He wants us to share our deepest anxieties and questions and anger with him – he is a relational God who wants to be part of our lives. Remember, his own Son cried out on the cross in anguish and grief, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
It’s OK to be angry with God, to share our frustrations and confusion and bitterness with him. Jesus’ own cries from the cross give us permission to do the same. God can work with that. It’s the beginning of the process of healing, and perhaps, eventually, the process of understanding.