Right hereMy wife is a gardener (I’m not) and we have just planted up a new border. In time, those shrubs and plants will grow (all being well). In time, they will need pruning to enable further growth. We, or rather, in reality, Jane, will nurture them for how they are to be today and in the future. It is, however, unlikely that she will reflect on how they were back at the garden centre. The focus will be on enabling them to grow well, right here, right now.

A few days ago, I was fortunate to be able to sit in on a small discussion group with Bishop Hugh Nelson, acting Bishop of Truro. He was talking with a couple of students training for ordained ministry and exploring aspects of the role of the church in today’s society.

Recalling his own training, Bishop Hugh quoted something he read at the time and has continued, by his own admission, to be a good reminder for him: ‘There is a Saviour – thank God it’s not you.’

Among other helpful insights, in reflecting on the current (some would say, parlous) state of the Church of England – reports of dwindling congregations, diminishing finances and the impact on and of reduced numbers of paid clergy – he gave a timely reminder for the students present (who are training to enter such an institution) and all of us who feel we are part of it: ‘God is calling you to the church of today.’

Not the church of the past and how it used to be. But the church of today – with all that is lacking and lost, all that makes for disagreements and differences as well as all that is good and strong. The church of today. Right here, right now.

That is a challenge for those training for ministry and the subsequent dashed hopes and frustrations because it is not necessarily the ministerially-shaped place they thought they were entering. But it is also a challenge for all of us who feel we are part of this thing we call ‘the church’.

Perhaps, as the church finds itself in this position (and I speculate mainly about the CofE, although I imagine other denominations are experiencing similar issues), we are in a time of ‘pruning’. One might even speculate that the church needs to be pruned in order for people to grow well and to really see and meet God. Perhaps, even… ‘There is a Saviour – thank God it’s not the church….’

 

But this also led me to ponder about how each of us are called for our current times: ‘God is calling you to be the person you are for today.’

Not the person you were in the past and how you used to be. But the person you are today, with all that you might be lacking and lost, with all the frustrations as well as all that is good and strong.

The person you are today. Right here, right now.

Grow well.

 

 

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