What we do 

The Curate writes... 

As I write this, parents are getting children ready for a new chapter in their lives. School uniforms are being put away safely; new, pristine pencil cases have been stocked, and the gauntlet of back-to-school shoe shopping is being faced.

At one point in my life this last experience was one I knew well. I was the smiling shop assistant who tried to mediate between fashion conscious teenagers, and sensible parents or – occasionally – vice versa.

Autumn is nearly here, and as the year turns, as crops are harvested, and leaves begin to change, so we also look for new beginnings. This time of year provides rich pickings for the preacher, with the reminder of changing seasons in the natural world and in our own lives.

My own life is mirroring this change this year as well, as I begin the process of leaving behind what I have grown to know and love, the Church and community of Melton, and move on to something new and unknown: a job at York Minster.

This time of year brings possibilities, as those moving imagine on how they might portray themselves to a new group of people: it is a chance to be the new improved us: more witty, engaging, insightful, constructive, popular. We will be the people we always wished we could be.

Facing new situations and people can be exhilarating, as we realise, prepared though we might be, we have no idea how to deal with what is in front of us. My Mother once said to me “Catriona, you will have to be patient with your Father and I: we are experts now in being parents to
toddlers and primary school children, and maybe even teenagers, but we’ve no idea how to be parents to 20-somethings: we’re learning on the job.” And so are we all.

new-beginnings-joshua-1-9

These situations can bring anxiety, and a sense of inadequacy: what on earth can I contribute? I’m never going to be listened to, or engaging, insightful, constructive or popular. This can feel especially true when we enter a place where we are new and uncertain, and others are not.

Faith helps in these situations: faith that what we have been taught will be enough for the next stage of our lives –  that the lessons in classrooms and round the dinner table, with our families and peers, have given us a sense of right and wrong, and a sense of purpose.

In times of change, whether we’re leaving home, or a job, or seeing others leave or change, Christian faith might be even more important. When all about us seems unstable, knowing we can lean on God is invaluable.

The psalmists knew that in times of trouble their help came from YHWH. Psalm 23 describes the Good Shepherd’s presence with his sheep, leading them even through the valley of the shadow of death. These songs are reminders that in time of desperation and challenge, God has and always will be with His people.

But He has also been with them in good times. Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding, where wine had been flowing. His generosity, doing
something no human could do – turning water into wine –  and doing it with such style – turning it into the finest vintage –  shows us what God wants for our lives. It is a glimpse of what can be, and what will be, the kingdom of God.

We seem to spend our whole lives working out who we are, who God is, and what He wants of us. A lot of the time we feel as if we’re making it up as we go along. We need to remember the support we have from one another, but most of all from God, who is with us in joy and in sorrow and will provide abundantly: for that is who God is. 
 
cat3    The Revd Catriona Cumming

 

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