Maundy Thursday. All day. Dropped the kids at school because Rosslyn was at work. And headed back to the study to clear the inbox and pick up urgent messages.
Met up with Pete, the Assistant Minister at ten. We’re working through Tony Payne & Col Marshall’s book The Trellis and the Vine. We had a good time. The chapters we read reinforced our own convictions that we need to get more people doing word ministry in the congregations. I may post something on this book at some stage; but I notice that the Briefing has got there first. I’m not sure that counts; they’re hardly independent since they published the book and one of the authors is the Editor of the Briefing! There’s lots in there that isn’t new to me because it’s the ministry DNA of Co-Mission. But it’s so helpful to be made to work out whether I’ve become distracted by building the trellis [structural support] rather than tending a vine [feeding people with God’s word].
Had lunch with one of the key guys from the evening congregation. He and his wife have been through the mill over the last 18 months. And they’re living with the consequences of that. He gently expressed some disappointment that I’d not been more ‘hands on’ in their situation. I think that’s fair; I haven’t been. They’ve not been neglected but it’s not been me that’s been at the sharp end of the provision of pastoral concern. They wouldn’t be the only people in the congregations that felt that.
It’s become common to talk about ministry strengths in terms of the threefold office of Christ. I think it’s quite useful as an anlytical tool. Jesus, you’ll remember, perfectly fulfils the threefold Old Testament offices of Prophet, Priest and King. We might say that
- the Prophet has a teaching and training emphasis
- the Priest is strong on personal care and intercession with a mediatorial function
- the King is the administrative strategist who rules over his realm
Jesus is brilliant at all three. We are not. Congregations might want their Minister to be as strong as Jesus in all areas but they’re going to be disappointed. They need to know what they want and what they’re getting. Every Minister will have strengths and weaknesses. I guess I’m a second rate prophet-king. I much prefer preparing a teaching series on the issues of personal care than actually doing any! I’d far rather organise a system to make sure that no one is neglected than actually spend an evening in their company listening to them, reading the Bible and praying. That’s not great. But I’m not the only one!
Of course, I must never use my ‘natural’ temperament or indeed my sinful preference as an excuse not to be involved in those areas where I’m weak. But it does help to explain where I’m going to underperform and where I’ll need to do some work. It also means that any other staff members ought to complement me if the church isn’t going to miss out. Pete has a much stronger priestly side to his character than I do. CCB is in a better place because of that.
The school term finished at 1.30pm. I’d missed the kids’ Easter Assembly, which I knew I had to, in order to work. But it’s the same for most Dads. It’s one of the advantages of ministry that I can usually get to these events. But I had loads on. Rufus was singing in the choir and playing with his guitar group. Flora and Diggers were taking part in the Easter Bonnet Parade. And as it turned out Rufus got a certificate from the Head Teacher for his impressive work ethic. Good man; it’s not about how well you do it’s about how hard you try!
We came back home and settled in. The youngest two watched Lion King 2 and Rufus took on Bangladesh at cricket on the X-Box. I escaped to the study to try and write something sensible for the Maundy Thursday Meditation. We’d never done this before. We’d always had the Good Friday Meditation. But of course, in a congregation like ours everyone’s disappeared back to their parents by Friday night. And so we thought we’d have a meal together before everyone headed off to the regions. We had 50 people sign up for the BBQ and Meditation and I was looking forward to it. But I still had to rpepare something and I’d been racking my brinas and working through Luke’s crucifixion narrative trying to work out what to do.
Half way through the afternoon I knew that we’d need to head over to Wimbledon to pick up the car. One bus trip and a train journey later we were at Wimbledon. Nine hundred pounds later and we’d picked up the car and headed back to Streatham Hill for supper at the Scottish Restaurant. McDondald’s. Completely ignored the healthy options and went for a different kind of ‘five a day’ – cheeseburgers, fries, dips, milkshakes and doughnuts. The kids may die young but they’ll die happy!
Got the three of them ready for bed and read ‘the Jesus Storybook Bible’ together as usual. Wondered whether using the bit on the resurrection might work well for the Easter Day kids’ slot; I could scan the pictures in and simply retell the story. They’re playful and restless at the moment. They need some time with their parents when they’re the centre fo attention and not peripheral for a while. They’re playing up and I suspect it’s a minor cry for some rightly justified attention. Holiday on Monday!
Thought the Meditation went well. We didn’t finish eating till 9.20pm. Everyone was having a really sociable time together. But we weren’t there simply to eat together, enjoyable as that is! We were there to remember Jesus’ death for us. I divided up Luke 22 and 23 into four sections; focussing on Jesus at the Last Supper, Jesus in Gethsemane, Jesus at his Trial and Jesus at Calvary. I did little more than offer a few introductory thoughts to each section, read out the passage and then allow people the space to reflect and pray. Afterwards we sang ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’, which I found hugely moving and then shared the Lord’s Supper. People hung around afterwards chatting but as it neared eleven I headed off to think about the Good Friday All Age meeting.