A new heart I will give you and put a new spirit within you, I will take away from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh… (Ezekiel 36:26)
I love those prophetic words in Ezekiel… God promising to change the hardened hearts of humanity for living, loving hearts of flesh. I also picked that line today as a follow up to my last post.
My mum is back at home after her heart bypass, and coping well with first stage of the long slow healing process.
I realise that I didn’t mention in that last post the other thing that was on my mind at the same time… having been officially signed off from my curacy at the end of three years, I had been in the process of applying for a post in a new parish!
Well I have been appointed to a new role in a parish four hours from where we live now, and so we are preparing as a family to ‘up sticks’ and decamp to a large coastal parish in the East of England; where I will be able to work with a team of lay and ordained colleagues in an exciting and demanding ministry, in what is ranked by the Church Urban Fund as the most deprived parish in its diocese, and one of the most deprived in the country. So lots of ministry potential and a lot of Good News needed!
I’m really looking forward to moving, and to working there, but it was only really after the appointment had been announced in both parishes, that, receiving all sorts of really lovely comments from the people here whom I have come to know – I realised that my task – in the new parish, as it was in this present one – would of course be to love the people there, to get to know them and their stories, and to find out what God is doing or could be doing in their lives.
It’ll be a bit different from the curacy of course – I am allowed to have a plan, and ideas for long term vision (worked out together with those around me) and will have to form strategies and evaluate progress, to see what’s working and how to develop it and what maybe isn’t… but primarily, as always it will be about loving, and praying, and listening and discerning… so I’ll need a new heart… or at least a refreshed one, a heart ready for new challenges of loving.
… I lay in bed the other night thinking about all the needs and potentials in the parish, and the sheer number of souls in the parish to be cared for, ideas racing round my head; and then I said to myself – ‘I can’t do this job, it’s too big!’ And I felt the sort of Divine common-sense reply, form like the responding ripples in a pool when you’ve chucked an idle pebble in: ‘Of course you can’t do it, it’s my job! – but if you are faithful and loving, then you will be able to help me in my task.’
Which reminds me – I’d better get on and do evening prayer now…