I've not been blogging a lot. Partly because my time has been taken up on the steep learning curve of being a new minister, partly because a lot of my thinking has been around "being a new minister" and many of my thoughts probably aren't really appropriate for a public blog.
So what are the things that have struck me over the past month? Well, the combination of preaching and pastoral ministry for a start. I'd been doing both for a number of years - lay preaching and pastoral visiting - but these activities were not with the same set of people. Those I preached to I did not pastoral visit and those I visited, I didn't normally preach to.
There really is a huge sense of privilege in preaching to and worshipping with people one has visited (and this journey is only beginning for me). Giving communion this morning to people whose struggles I'm gradually getting to know was very moving. There was the added joy this morning of giving communion to a young lad who has only just started coming to church and learning what God is about. To see the smile on his face when he received communion and to pray silently for his growth in the Lord was a huge joy, a massive privilege - there really are no words for the experience.
My last thought on all this was something Lorna said many weeks ago. I can't find the actual blog-post, but it was something to the effect that our theology must meet the needs of people (something I know a lot of people claim to disagree with as felt needs are allegedly irrelevent or trivial or something). In my first four weeks, I've concentrated on visiting people who "need me most" (as Wesley told his preachers to do). In visiting a number of people who have a number of chronic / painful / ultimately fatal conditions, a lot of theological issues that are allegedly so important - like male headship or homosexual partnerships - not only pale into insignficance, but they genuinely are totally irrelevant to these people. And these Christian brothers and sisters have amazing testimonies of God's grace and of his presence with them in their illnesses. These testimonies are so inspiring and, as far as I am concerned, are the core of real faith.
To profess that God is good, to radiate joy in the midst of great pain and illness is to have real faith (and no, I've not had those experiences to have that kind of faith, so I'm not claiming it for myself). Reciting doctrine is babies' milk.