Thought for the Month - Holy Trinity, Prestwood

DH-1 A thought for the month by our Rector, Deiniol.

There’s a lot going on! We are a busy church. I feel as if the course of this year has been about laying foundations, the fruits of which we will begin to see in 2020.
Most importantly, and underpinning all this, is the Partnership for Missional Church (PMC) process. It has been interesting to see how this process both drives and reflects the energy that is in the church community. Before the summer the PCC devoted some time to PMC, particularly in discussing what our Missional Experiment, which is at the core of year two of PMC, should be. I felt those discussions were very fruitful—what they achieved was to get us as a body thinking theologically, bringing our faith to the table and questioning our actions in the light of what it means to be a Christian in the world. This is a real sign of the cultural change that we are hoping to bring about through the PMC process. We were striving to see what God was doing in the world and join in. It was at times a painful process, perhaps because these are muscles the PCC has not collectively exercised much in the past. Over the summer, PMC has not moved on. We are still where we were. But now we move on with renewed energy.
It is always easier to worry about drains, money, practical things and processes than it is to worry about our faith. This cultural change means we are seeking to root our corporate life in a form of prayer that is more personal and intimate but still shared. This too may be a painful process. It might be interesting to reflect on why that might be. We spent a bit of time last year getting used to the Spiritual Discipline of Dwelling in the Word. We shall do more of that this year, both as a worshipping community, and in church groups. It has provoked strong reactions—and I am intrigued to know why.
Is it the idea of sitting with a passage of scripture for a year I wonder? If so I invite you to look on the passage of scripture not as words to be learnt or analysed or understood. Try to look on it rather like you would look at person’s face. Do you get tired of looking at the face of a loved one—a partner, child or parent? Sometimes, indeed, we may! But that is a function of us and our place in the relationship if we feel that way. We do not ordinarily say to a child “I have looked at you long enough, I want to look elsewhere.” And yet for us as Christians the Word of God is the Face of God—Jesus Christ. When we prayerfully read scripture we are open to what God is showing us—it is more like reading the emotions on a face than understanding a text. That changes over time, even though the words don’t.
Is it the idea of having to speak—when we are scared of looking ignorant or don’t know how to think? Dwelling in the Word is not a Bible study. It’s a prayerful listening exercise. First we ‘listen’ to what God is saying to us. That is no more than noticing what jumps out at us, what sticks in our mind when we hear the passage this time. It isn’t about knowledge, profundity or being clever. It’s just what happens when we pay attention. And then we listen to our neighbours and share their thoughts. Isn’t it liberating to speak about something someone else has said, rather than sharing our own views? What a revolution that would be to our political processes. What a different world we would live in if we saw John Bercow on the news thanking Jacob Rees-Mogg for explaining Jeremy Corbyn’s views so clearly. There is something deeply Christian about listening. It happens a lot in the Gospels—Jesus listens and reflects back the deepest feelings of those he encounters, usually with a challenge. We don’t have to go that far!
Dwelling in the Word is a form of prayer. A way of listening to God. PMC is about listening—noticing what God is doing and joining in. In all the exciting things that are happening, please don’t forget that we are prayerfully listening to God, and we pray he is listening to us. We are hopeful, optimistic for the future, and building the kingdom of God together.

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Holy Trinity, Prestwood is an Inclusive Church. We are part of the Church of England.
We are in the Oxford diocese and the Wendover Deanery.

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