Retreat is still going well. Just finished a session on `Being connected`based on John 15:1~17. We were challenged to think about all the people we’ve been connected to in our lifetime, we are still connected to and we were challenged to give thanks for them. Set me off thinking about Doreen Bullerwell, to whom I owe so much for setting me out on this journey, to Mum and Dad who gave me so much, to Auntie Evie and Uncle Bill who loved me as their own. I think of Alison, my wife, of whom I’m so proud, of friends like Judith, Alison, Stuart, Andrew and the list goes on and on.
I then began thinking about the youngsters I’ve been in contact with over the years, Gareth, Kate, Chris, Jamie, Nathan and the youngsters I think so much of in my current Churches, Ben, Adam, Nathan, Matthew, Bradley, Brodie, Iain, James, The Crowther girls, the Grundy girls and again the list goes on and on (My apologies if I’ve missed anyone out; it doesn’t mean I think any the less) and it becomes so long that I cannot mention everyone. I see that on my facebook I have 143 friends and I am aware of others who have not yet found me on facebook.
When I came into ministry it felt as though I was leaving my wider family behind in the North East but as I look back now I see that God has given me a much bigger family and I am so grateful for that connectedness.
The second part of the challenge was a lot harder. It was to think of those people who would be giving thanks for being connected to me; people who I’ve sat with at bedsides, the sick, the dying; those I’ve helped on Alpha courses; those I’ve simply befriended; schoolchildren at assemblies. I am aware that there must be some but its a lot harder and against natural inclinations to think that anyone would be thankful for me. I know, in my heart that they are, but it almost feels like boasting to admit it. Maybe that’s part of the reason for the challenge, because we all need to know how useful we are to others and how others really do appreciate our presence. I may have to work a bit harder on that one yet, but I’m trying !