Long leave has always been an opportunity for me to think deeply about the Ministry, my place in it and the gracious nature of God’s calling. The first time I took long leave was in 2005 and 2006, I split the leave in two because Leah was born in 2005 and we needed some time to adjust to her coming. A year later, we went away with her. I was about to assume leadership (Moderator of the Presbytery) and I needed time to think and pray. The second time, in 2010, I was on the edge of something even bigger and more exciting (Moderator of Assembly). The two months I took then were very meaningful in spending time with God asking about his will for the Church.
This time, I’ve also prayed long and hard and I feel like we’re all on the edge of something big. Each time, I’ve prayed about the ministry and my role in it. This time, I’ve remembered something the philosopher Nietzsche once wrote (this was echoed by Eugene Peterson by the way): “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living”. I’ve wondered about this line long and hard! I asked a few colleagues what they thought about it. What it comes down to for me is this: The obedience I am called to, indeed the “long obedience” is in response to a beckoning finger and four simple words, “Come and follow me”. For Peter and Andrew, James and John, it was beside the sea of Galilee. For me, it first came at 11 or 12 years in a Scripture Union Club and then, again, at 16 in a Confirmation class. Just “Come” and then “follow me”.
The call has been repeated a few more times, each time it pulls at my heart, tears flow easily. It’s so simple but to obey is so dangerous. It calls me to be vulnerable. I’m 42 now and still, I feel deeply committed to obey, to a long obedience. By what of the direction? I have felt him beckon in many directions, varied directions. In fact, this call has been unbelievably varied, exciting and adventurous. The ministry has been anything but stable. So what’s the one direction?
I know that it’s not necessarily a long ministry. When he calls me away, I must go – that is obedience but then again, if he calls me to stay – it will be obedience to stay even if its hard.
What’s the great thing that comes next? I’m not fully sure. What I know is this: It’s here at St Mungo’s. It involves Missional Church. I think we will be pioneers. I believe we will bless the Church by what we do.
We’d love to get to know you, please introduce yourselves to our ministers, Selaotswe, George or Mukondi as they greet you at the door.