Tuesday, 4 December 2012

…..And the mouse within

I didn't plan to write a part two to yesterdays post on this term but today has made me think otherwise. I've always tried to give a fair portrayal of how things really are on this blog. Ultimately this is because I believe whole heartedly in cutting the BS. I can't see any other way to really connect. Until we start to say with honesty where we are at, until we learn to live by the truth rather than the image we project, well, I'm not sure there's much hope for us. Much less in my line of work that has been know for centuries as a place of pomp, of hierarchy and of holier than thou. I don't know about you but I've seen enough of that. I'm looking for something more human.

Today we had a seminar on preaching. I'm excited about preaching probably because I love blog writing so much. That and because I genuinely love diving into the Bible which surprises me, shocks me, does my head in and encourages me in equal measure. But what I realised today in that seminar felt like the weight of fifteen bibles placed on my shoulders. Because, and here's the real secret, half the time I'm pretty convinced I can't do the things I'm being asked to do.

Now I know you're not supposed to say that. You are supposed to have the swagger of authority, to seem like you can hold the cares of the world in the palm of you hand and not even notice it. But I'm not like that. When I think about having something to say to people, something honest and relevant that stays true to the awesome and torturous history of this faith and the whole history of a nation, well, I feel very, very afraid. I feel like a gnat about to be splatted with the book I'm trying to preach from.

I've been known to call my being here a divine joke. Not that I don't think I should be here but that there is still an absurdity to it. I'm a square peg looking at a round hole and saying 'now how do you suppose this is going to happen?' It can be so easy to look around and think about everything I don't know. I can name about three hymns, all the ones people complain about because they are so old hat or sung too often. I have to rename the church silverware by names of Dr Who villains to make them stick in my mind and then very nearly end up calling a Ciborium a Cyborg out loud.

Ciborium or Cyborg?
Oh, I'm a trier, I really am, but sometimes I just want to sack the ritual and stand in the middle of a field to say my prayers that I make up right there on the spot. In the church God made rather than the one we create for him. Sometimes I need to sing Stevie Wonder to God and not something penned circa 1850. Sometimes I want to say I've had a bad day too, let you know that I'm a human being, that dog collars and robes don't mean a thing. We are all the same aren't we? We have the same beginning and the same end after all. The same hopes and fears at the bottom of it.

I don't say this to illicit cries of 'oh no you're more than capable'. Perhaps that is true, perhaps it isn't, perhaps it will become true with time. I say it to anyone sitting at their desk thinking 'I can't do this' or ducking out of what they feel they should be doing because of feeling too small for the task. I say it in the light of all the things I said yesterday. All the very real joys and triumphs of this journey. I'm saying it to be honest with you.

All I know I do have, and why the powers-that-be sent me here in the first place, is an irrepressible love for God. I don't really have any credit for that. It's like a power surge that I've found myself plugged into. One of my favourite poems is a very early, very simple Japanese verse. It goes 'Though one dams it and dams it my heart still breaks through like a swift river, saying how beautiful he is'. And that, my friends, is really all I have and I'm trusting it to carry me through.

I want that to be remembered as I tell my stories here and that's why I say it again now. Don't ever feel like you are too ordinary for the things you have in your heart to do. Perhaps it's the ordinary that will be the extraordinary thing. Who knows?


  1. Nicola, I'm not sure if this will help, but almost 25 years after I was first ordained deacon, I still don't feel equipped to preach and yet I manage it with God's help. That's the miracle, isn't it, that God can take ordinary things like bread and wine and you and me and make something extraordinary out of them.

  2. Thanks Perpetua. Yes, that is the extraoridnary thing and very much worth holding on to!