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Message from the Superintendent Minister

Rev Mike Long



Dear friends,

I’m a big fan of the TV series ‘The West Wing’, and am sufficiently nerdy to have watched the entire box set several times. It contains many glorious quotes, one of which is: ‘the safest place for ships is in harbour, but that’s not what ships were built for’. It seems a good line for us during Lent to help us think about our relationship with God and how we might be led from our comfort zones into a more liberating, joyful experience of the kingdom of God.


In a similar vein, St James’ church in New York devised a prayer that became globally recognized, though some have attributed it to Francis Drake centuries earlier. It asks God to disturb us when we are too pleased with ourselves, when our dreams come true because we have dreamed too little, or rarely ventured far from the shore. It confesses our shallowness of faith and asks God to help us dare more boldly, and to set out on greater ventures where discoveries will be extraordinary not humdrum. The prayer ends by asking that God might work in us, reset our spiritual scorecard and encourage us to see where we - because we are human - have become complacent in discipleship and expectation.


Lent presents us with a kind of refresher course that, rather than providing us with information, instead invites us to look inward, at ourselves. What is becoming stale in us? Is our hope evaporating? Have we settled for a compromise of mediocre worship, private devotion, and low expectation of what God can do? For many Christians, the answer is often a ‘yes’. And perhaps we’re not alone in not wanting to confront our inner demons, the sadness and hurts we often carry. The ‘sad rota of forgotten dreams’ as another prayer puts it.


As Jonah, and many other figures from Scripture and since have discovered, you can run but you can’t hide. But the story of God’s dealing with people, from wrestling Jacob through to Jesus and his followers, is that the journey is a blessed one: that as with Jesus in the wilderness, we can be brought to new places of resolve, courage and strength through faith in the grace of God.


Lent is of course predominantly a time of self-denial, but part of that can be the abandoning of our comfort zones, and to exchange them for God’s ones – divine zones of holy discomfort, adventure, joy, healing and peace. As the wandering people of Israel, and Jesus knew, the desert can be a fertile place. Resurrection glory and power may be fully revealed at Easter, but their seeds germinate through the ‘forty days and nights’ of our Lent pilgrimage. It can, and should, be a time of joy for us as we approach Holy Week and Easter.


With every blessing –


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