Today I’ll be leading a Quiet Day for the Mothers Union, on the theme of “Answering God’s Call”.
I’m not certain whether the MU operates within ECUSA,- certainly it has active membership in most parts of the Anglican Communion, but if you don’t know it by name, you’re bound to have encountered a similar body of wonderful church ladies…Ladies who make tea and chocolate cake, ladies who have served their time as PCC secretaries, doyennes of the flower rota, choristers and Sunday school teachers. In the UK, the membership now is inclined to be elderly, though the international profile is rather more glamorous,- and even here the MU surprises and delights by running projects like the Debt Counselling Service and a holiday caravan scheme for struggling families, and oversees the creche at many prisons.
Our own MU at St Mary’s was responsible for the original foundation of my beloved Little Fishes, and provides mind-blowing teas each month for OpenHouse. They are a delightful band of allies, ladies whom I can always ask for prayer without any self consciousness or anxiety.
So, it was rather a privilege to be invited to give something back, in the form of their annual Quiet Day…open to members from all the parishes of the deanery.
It’s also an awesome responsibility….and, inevitably, I’d delayed preparation until the 11th hour, if not later.
Learning point number 1: you will feel better about presenting material in this sort of context if you’ve prayed it through for longer than a weekend plus 2 days!
Learning point number 2: God will probably use the experience to “grow” you in some new ways,- and this may not always be comfortable
Learning point number 3 (as the clouds gather): it is rash to rely on good weather in the UK, specially if the recent weather has consisted of unclouded sunshine (except, that is, for the torrential downpour that struck just before OpenHouse on Sunday, and kept most sensible families at home)…Just because the venue has lovely gardens, it doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone will be able to use them
Learning point number 4 (this should have been number 1, but I’m inclined to be slow on the uptake sometimes): whatever thoughts and words I offer, their only purpose is to encourage and facilitate the thoughts and prayers of those attending. It is so emphatically not about me, perhaps I should just cease wittering and get on with it.
In the preparation, I’ve been hugely grateful that the RCL provided such amazingly relevant readings, and the Ordinary Time reflections were so apposite and helpful. Pals, - I owe you a drink one day!
Time to go now. I’ll see you later, and maybe say something of my thoughts on the topic itself- but let me leave you with one of my very favourite quotes on vocation, some words of Rowan Williams which I carried around in my heart as the clearest expression of reality while I struggled to evade, and then to absorb, my own call to ordination
"Vocation has to do with saving your soul – not by acquiring a secure position of holiness but by learning to shed the unreality that suffocates the life of the soul…
Vocation is, you could say, what’s left when all the games have stopped”