Thursday, October 01, 2009

Life in dialogue

I had a good session after the Eucharist with David, the second of my adult confirmands, getting ready to renew his baptismal vows a week today at St Martin's. He thinks deeply about prayer and how it works with the analytical mind of a computer scientist, and asks really good questions as he strives to strengthen the connection between his faithful searching heart and his intellect. I really enjoy this. It stretches me, and helps me to believe that I am still learning how better to express the faith that hold me together.

The sense of being called to be a missionary and evangelist has increased as I have got older, despite my deep disaffection with the church and its institutional preoccupation with structures and procedures that seem to have contributed nothing to halt the hemorrhage of people from the life of common prayer and fellowship. I love preaching more for the preparation and fruitful reflection it requires than for its actual delivery - not least because within our social context and delivery time frame, it's impossible for preaching to become a dialogue without becoming trivial. Working informally with individuals and small groups in ways that permit exchange is what gives me a real creative sense of sharing the word. Finding exactly the right framework to do this in an ordinary parochial context with so many customary expectations is difficult. Maybe retirement will open up windows of opportunity. Who knows?

This evening my new student on placement from St Mike's came for an initial briefing chat. He's another Andrew. We first met seven years ago when he worked as city centre operations manager locally. He does a similar job now in Caerphilly UDC, and is just beginning the hard slog of non-stipendiary ministry training. As he knows the Parish well, and many aspects of its life - he started life as a city center police constable, another pastoral role - the shape of his time with me will be unlike that spent with the previous three students I've taken on board. Needless to say, I look forward to the dialogue I'll be sharing with him over the next six months.

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