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?|
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?