I didn’t expect this thought to swim to the surface. I kept on thinking it was too small a thought for a blog and instead of catching it, it should be allowed to swim about until it was a bit bigger, then I could reel it in and serve it up. However, this small thought in the form of a memory seems to be insisting on being the “catch of the day.”
The thought, the memory is this: I was at a Church of Scotland Conference where a wonderful parish minister and former moderator of the Church of Scotland, The Very Rev John Miller was speaking. He had been the minster of an area of Glasgow that would be termed a Priority area; an area which by many different measurements would be considered an area of deprivation. He told us all that he was once asked by a six year old girl in one of the Primary Schools in the parish, “What does a minister do?” Maybe you are thinking, “Actually I have always wondered that too!” Well, John Miller thought for a moment and then he said this in reply to that wee girl: “A minister helps people to know there is away to be happy, even after bad things have happened to them.” When I heard him say that I felt angered. In fact I was fuming! I sat there thinking to myself, “But what about the preaching of the gospel? What about the declaration of the Kingdom? What about the preaching and teaching of The Word…. what about… what about…?” I felt such a definition of parish ministry was woefully inadequate. However I felt the anointing of God on what he was saying and I have learned that anointing teaches us all things truly, whereas our own minds and thought processes can be so faulty. I knew that God approved of what John Miller was saying, however much it angered me! By the time I went to bed that evening I was weeping because I sensed the sheer beauty and loveliness of Christ in what he said to that six year old. Over the years since, it has become one of my favourite definitions of parish ministry and moreover it seems to accurately sum up what my ministry, particularly my time in Wester Hailes, has largely been about. Sadly, even by the age of 6, there are so many people who need to hear someone telling them that. Maybe you were one such 6 year old and the 6 year old within you still needs to hear that 50 or 60 or 70 years on…
And that is the memory and the thought. “There is a way to be happy even after bad things have happened.” I simply give it to you along with some sentences about why it would not go away, all beginning with “Perhaps…”
Perhaps, quite simply, bad things have happened to you and you need to know that with Jesus there can be a way to be happy again. “Though weeping endures for the night, joy comes in the morning.” Jesus really can give us “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” It is my job as a minister to tell you that and pray you will experience it to be true.
Perhaps you will need to be a minister today, and bring an assurance of the possibility of happiness to another person, lend them your faith in that truth when they have no faith in it for themselves…
Perhaps, if you are a parish minister or church pastor you need to rethink what ministry is about for you…
Well, there are more sentences I could have given beginning with “perhaps.” The danger is that if I suggest too many you might not think for yourself what this thought for today maybe has to say to you, so I simply leave it between you and the Lord to think about.
(This was really a thought being written on Tuesday night to be sent out on Wednesday. Somehow though I feel it is to go out tonight, as well as tomorrow… so here it is, a few hours earlier than planned.)