Action Zones 

From the Rectory May 2016 

as published in Great Yarmouth Parish Life

CHRIS TERRY 2We live in a society that thrives on ‘busyness’ and the achievement of results. If we do not achieve often self-imposed targets, then we feel that we have failed. The culture of this busy environment is not helped by today’s society that is linked together 24/7 through social media

The Church is not exempt from this culture. We have all seen clergy and lay people who work long hours thinking to justify their calling. This is especially so for clergy who want to see results but the fruits of a particular ministry can often be seen many years later. Is this business really necessary?

Have we lost sight of that essential gift that saw Jesus invite people to come away to a quiet place? One of the most inspirational sermons I ever heard was preached by Bishop John Taylor of St Albans at the Blessing of the Oils service in Holy Week. He was close to retirement and his words were almost a farewell to his clergy

He reminded us ‘God does not call you to be successful, only faithful’

It is so true but it is a style of being that does not easily fit with the passion of our calling and the way that this is shaped by the world that works so very differently today. Some might be tempted to say that this is just a way of avoiding the reality of failure. Such wisdom is false as it hides from the command to go and make disciples

With many of the parables stressing the importance of urgency of our task should we be looking for results? That is true but too often we confuse action with result and the results may be better if we but take the time to stop, see and listen. As another priest once remarked to me it is easy to plant annuals but it takes more patience to plant strong sturdy trees

I have always told newly ordained clergy, entrusted to me as their training incumbent, to spend the first month not in action but in ‘being’. Learning what it is to ‘be’ an ordained minister of the church by walking through the market place wearing the clerical collar. Learning to understand that ‘being’ a priest is not always about ‘doing’. A lot of the time is about listening to and observing what goes on around you. Learning to be a person for whom prayer and reflection are second nature for it is from this that true wisdom is nurtured. It is why I place value on the daily offices of the church. Here in prayer and quietness before God, in the reception of the Holy Sacrament day by day we build the faithfulness that God desires of us. This holds true not only for the priest but for all Christians

This month the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have called us to a week of prayer leading up to Pentecost. Some might hope to see the result in thousands flooding back to our churches. That would be good but on the other hand, God might know that we would be ill-equipped to cope with thousands of new Christians at one time! Might it not be that the first task is to encourage our Churches to be faithful and to foster a deeper sense of prayerfulness, commitment and faith? Then would we have the people to walk alongside those who come to us. It is in learning faithfulness that we become ready to be successful. I hope that in this week of prayer you will engage in the times of prayer both in our churches and in quiet of your own homes. Praying for God’s guidance as we seek to do his will in making new disciples

Fr Chris


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