Time to Say Goodbye !

from Rev. Bruce Wood - June 2019

Published in News First — our monthly church newsletter  

 If I was to follow current common wisdom, and as this is my final epistle, I would begin to talk about myself and all the things I’ve done since I arrived here some four and a bit years ago, and you would see a great list of actions, and may even be impressed.  However, that’s not what I do, or how I work in ministry with people.

We - are a community of people - where each person is valued, where each person is listened to, and where each person is given the opportunity to contribute their words, their deeds, and their giftedness, and where no one opinion is more important than any other opinion.  This is a hard balance to achieve and is often resisted by those who believe their opinion matters more than others.

However, true community, true fellowship, and true inclusion only happens when each person is valued for who they are, listened to with respect, and then given the opportunity to act in a manner that has integrity with their beliefs.  This has been one of my prime motivating goals over the past few years - and I think we have moved significantly toward that outcome.

Each life, and each stage of life, has something new to offer the individual and the community in which they find themselves.  However, many people find that when they look back on their lives, or take time to reflect, often think that they haven’t done a lot with their lives.

And yet, that all depends on who is looking and how you define ‘doing a lot with your life’ - for how do we know how much we might do when we touch another person’s life?  Many feel that their lives must be dramatic, and successful to achieve anything of importance - but if we consider ourselves Christian, then we only have to look at the life of Jesus Christ for our best example.

Jesus was born in a stable out the back of a pub - not a very inspiring beginning, despite rumours of wise men and angels - and then nothing is heard of him for the next twelve years.  Next we hear briefly that he has been a very naughty, disobedient boy, who ran away from his parents on a visit to Jerusalem, and then we find him showing off in the temple.

Silence for another 18 years - and then this 30 year old man appears.  No money, no property, no transport, no job.  Rather odd friends - itinerate fishermen, tax collectors, and ladies of dubious reputation.  He is rude to his mother at Cana - he looses his temper with spectacular violence in the temple - and finally dies a criminal’s death.  And all in three short years.  Yet here we are still talking about him more than two thousand years later - and loving him.  So it depends you see, on what you mean by ‘I haven’t done a lot with
my life’.

Jesus was not the gentle Jesus meek and mild of yesterday’s song, with long fair hair and blue eyes.  I imagine him as young, tough and charismatic - someone who always answered a question with a question - leading people forward - making them think.  He would have made a first class barrister.

There is always more to a person’s life that it seems on the surface.  All you have to do is scratch that surface - and then listen - and you may find a whole new person with a whole new set of experiences just waiting to be heard.  Opening people’s eyes to realities - challenging them to listen to unpleasant truths - instilling a true sense of awareness in people - is always a truly miraculous process. 

Jesus was a man who knew the sense of the grace of God working in his life - who knew when to challenge and when to hold his tongue - who lived the compassion of God each day of his life - and who was willing to step toward situations and people others would run away from.  This is the man I admire and base my life on - this is that man that inspires my life - challenges my thinking - and who enlivens my life, each day.

Community - is a product of the actions and the beliefs of the people who make up that community - and is found as we live out the road ahead - where courage and compassion, grace and challenge - lead to friendship, and community, and a common goal.

As I say goodbye, I hope that I have also challenged you, maybe inspired you, and hopefully offered you the opportunity to contribute to the community of faith, we call Warragul Uniting Church.

Peace,  Rev. Bruce Wood