Here is the third and final thought I want to share with you from Julian Reindorp’s talks at the Ministry Today conference.
He said this to us during worship in the chapel at Pleshey Retreat House:
“John Wesley said the world was his parish. Forgive us for reversing this, and making the parish our world.”
Have we just become consumed with church matters rather than the kingdom?
Part Two of Julian Reindorp’s contributions to the Ministry Today conference: he shared a meditation, based on the work of the late Henri Nouwen. Imagine you are lying on the beach in your swimming gear. You are completely relaxed, and just for once not even one thought from your work in pastoral ministry is intruding into your mind.
As you lie there, you see a person walking in your direction from a distance away. It is a man. When he arrives, you realise it is Jesus. He speaks to you:
“I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ for all you are doing for me.”
How do you react?
Because for some of us, those would be hard words to accept. We think we are such failures that we cannot believe Jesus would speak to us like that. Maybe the critical words of others so loom in our minds that they frame what we think Jesus might say. If they are critical, we may believe he is.
So what does our reaction say about our circumstances, or the state of our souls?
I’m just back from the annual Ministry Today conference. This year our speaker was Canon Julian Reindorp, recently retired from ministry in Richmond, Surrey. His theme was ‘Who Encourages Us?’ I plan to share one brief bon mot from his material each day for three days here.
The first is this: in our first session, he claimed that the work of ordained ministry has never been more important than it is today. Well, that caught my attention. Why would he say that when our rôle is increasingly marginalised and valued less?
For this reason: our calling involves building community – the community of Christ. Yet in our society, there is less and less community building. ‘Social capital’ is declining. Even previously social activities are now conducted alone, as Robert Putnam observed in his book Bowling Alone.
So let us hold our heads up high. Whatever people may think, the church is engaged in the most crucial of activities, and we who serve that church in leadership are contributing something utterly vital to our society.