As a mother hen protects her young under her wings, we are sheltered by the wings of the Holy One who keeps us secure ("He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge" Psalm 91:4).
What I really appreciated about New Wine this year was the gentleness.
There was a real humility about the speakers, a quietness almost, an absolute confidence that it is God who works and people do not need whipping up into some emotional state. There was an eloquence, a gentle conversational style and then a simple waiting on the presence of the Holy Spirit. Ellie Mumford and Mark Melluish come to mind, particularly. In their preaches I was most able to listen with the ears of those coming to faith; those a little bit worried about giving God control of their lives. I was able to see these speakers with their hearts, how receptive they could be to this gentle, loving God who does not need us to tell him what to do; who will give to us out of the sheer generosity of the overflowing love of the perichoretic relationship He has with the Son and the Spirit.
This all meant that during prayer ministry I too had complete faith in this God who will bless his people with His presence. Like the speakers, I could say less and expect more, wait with more serenity and relax in His presence. God just swept through those spaces to encourage, affirm and equip his people. Nothing jarred from the stage, I like to think that we didn't get in God's way too much.
I really hope that our churches begin to minister more confidently in the power of the Spirit. There is a leveling that takes place when we see God at work and ask for more of him and less of us. If we just trust that God can meet with us despite our 'fears and failures', if we can just learn to see each other more through His eyes, we will begin to see each other that way more often too, bridges will be built between denominations, cult of personality will begin to melt away, we will strategise less and wait for his leading more, we will watch for where He is already at work and has gone before us and we will have guts to take more risks for God, assured that we are completely loved and it is only our heavenly Father we are to please.
I really hope I carry some of this into my own ministry. My curacy is settled and just needs signing off and a working agreement arranged.
By the way, any tips for the working agreement would be really appreciated. I am hoping to protect some family time, the writing of my Masters thesis and my ministry at New Wine. I am not asking for too much, I hope.
And for the rest of August, which is already fast slipping away, I now just have to move house, preach on Eph 6 and write a 6000 word report for college by the 31st. I have got out of the habit of asking for your prayers but realising more and more I can not do these things in my own strength, I am asking... put a word in for me, please.
I am okay, I think. But my dreams tell me otherwise. I am leaving my house and I am crying. I have told God off this morning, not really my style, but I figure he can take it and he has asked me to be more real with him. He is asking me to do things, I am saying yes and of course, I have free will to choose, but I am going out of my comfort-zone. I can no longer provide certain things for the children, their garden will shrink to a tenth of the size, many of their toys have been sold on ebay but God gives me dreams of all these toys for them that I discover. My husband must support them in their entry into a new school and I will not take them to their new school in September because ironically I will be in traffic on the A52 hurtling all the way back to where we have just moved from for my September church placement back in Derby. My husband is also putting his business on hold, such sacrificial love. I will have double the academic work-load next year and... I think I am sharing my vulnerabilities here....oooh scary! Usually so upbeat and full of theology, perhaps it's time this blog exposed a little more skin.
So I feel I am living in the presence of the future, in more ways than one. I sometimes have to remember which house I am moving into. My prayer-life is already orientating itself around the curacy but that will not begin for another year.
I hope to stay rooted and grounded, become more Hen-like, and 'Hen (my husband: Henryk) - like' and gather my family under my wings (Luke 13:34). My husband is so good at that. Please pray that we are all bound together in His love, that the children settle well into their new house and that we will continue to seek more of God. Thank you.