I couldn’t decided whether to start this week’s ‘Sunday to Sunday’ reflection with, “Sunday afternoon turned out to more eventful than I thought it would be…” or “On Sunday afternoon I ended up at the Covid 19 clinic in Weston Creek!”
Both are true. Seventy minutes before Sunday’s church meeting I was cleaning the kitchen and impaled the end of my finger on the Tupperware chopper (those blades are sharp!) We applied three band-aids (but they were a band-aid solution!) and the wound kept bleeding. Over the phone CALMs advised us to get an initial assessment from a chemist on whether it might need stitches (the chemist in Phillip said yes) and then go to Weston Creek Walk In Centre. When we got there, however, we were reminded that it was a Covid testing clinic only, so with only 25 minutes before the meeting, I came home to take Panadol and try to keep my elevated hand out of the Zoom shot! (The good news is the laceration is now healing well.)
But I have been reminded very palpably of what I said last Sunday about the Trinity. Diversity is so important. It turns out there are a lot of things my right index finger does for me. I have been finding ways to work around it, but it is very awkward! (The most awkward thing is that is the fingerprint I use to open my mobile phone!) But it is also incredibly important that these fingers, each with their distinct and diverse functions, are capable of working together.
And in the same way each of the persons of the Trinity, says Alistair McGrath, “become evident within the economy of salvation and the human experience of the redemption and grace”…and yet the Godhead is “a ‘community of being’ in which all is shared, united and mutually exchanged.” Christian community also fails to be true community when it is marred by domination or aggression or manipulation, but flourishes where it incarnates cooperation and coordination and appreciation of one another’s gifts.
Which brings me back to the discussion on Sunday afternoon of the Deacon’s Report on how we might handle conflict better as a community in the future. I know many people found this discussion difficult and painful. It was very difficult and painful for me, and for Aron and Miriam listening here with me. (I did appreciate the comment Paul Falconer made, in ‘the chat’, about whether anyone else present had ever been held to account by so many employers!) And this is the very challenging nature of a minister’s role. You are all my employers, but you are also my circle of friends, my community. And you are the people who I care for and minister to, and in turn, as my brothers and sisters in Christ, you care for and minister to me.
I have appreciated so much over the eleven years I have served this church how all who spoke up on Sunday have cared for me and ministered to me, and to my family, over the years, and I want that to continue. Because, as I said on Sunday afternoon, I do not want to leave my ministry here. It would not help me or my family to heal if we were to walk away now. And I love this church, and the people of this church and the work we are doing together. My hope is that this experience will help us to grow – in our honest dealings with each other, in courage and vulnerability and love – and that we will be a more life-giving community in the future.
Because even in the uncertainty of the Covid situation, I am excited about our future as a church. Over the past few months we have faced significant changes together and we have done so by being cooperative and innovative and valuing one another’s gifts; together responding to the call of God to be God’s church here. (I have also attached here some of the photos I promised last Sunday of what that cooperation and innovation and use of gifts currently looks like – in how a group come together to prepare the Zoom services – on Sunday mornings.)
As I said on Sunday, I want to thank all of you for being so gracious about these significant changes and for not neglecting to meet together, as Hebrews 10 says, but encouraging each other in worship and in the breakout groups. It has been really inspiring, and my hope is that this commitment to one another will continue to foster new and stronger bonds across our church community and give birth to fresh expressions of faith in Jesus, community and sharing God’s love and justice.
I want to close by borrowing the beautiful verse John included in his report: Romans 15:5-6 (NRSV): May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This week we look forward to what John will say to us about that ongoing mission from Matthew 9:35-10:8.
Grace and peace,
PS Another trinity enjoying a great chocolate cake! Thanks to Cecelia for using one of her many gifts to make this for my birthday this week. John and I used our gifts of appreciation!