When I logged on this morning, I discovered that this post had generated one fairly fierce, accusatory comment, which I'm not about to repeat here - though it might be helpful for you to go and read it now, before continuing... You see, it contains a painful degree of truth, and so deserves a response - though I'm not generally happy to debate with someone who hides behind anonymity.
However, the point is well made.
I talked about all that we have and all that we are coming to us from a generous God - and was taken to task for having much, myself, while others have so little.It seemed to me that Anon was, using the fact that I can have a comfortable life as a reason to question God's part in the whole - though I may be misreading him/her...I'd question the logic of that. Blaming God for the failures of God's children isn't going to get us anywhere much, I fear.
I'm more than willing to admit that I am less generous, more fearful, more focussed on scarcity than in my heart I would like to be.
God provides enough for all, but we mostly (and yes, that most definitely includes this left-leaning, failing-more-often-than-not Gloucestershire vicar) forget to trust God's generosity. Instead we panic,we hang on to stuff for ourselves, hold back from being fully human, from being generous in response to God's generosity,- because this is a broken, messed up world, inhabited by broken messed up people.
I ALWAYS preach stuff I NEED to hear...
I don't speak from a position of superiority, thinking for a moment that I've got it sorted. I'm just holding up an ideal to which I want to aspire, and inviting others to consider whether they want to join me in trying to get it less badly wrong. I'm hoping that nobody assumes that preachers are speaking from a moral high ground.
Rather I'm preaching from a consciousness of my own failings, and my own need of God.
If I only preached about things that I had got right, I'd never ever enter the pulpit again...but I also think that I'd run the risk of offering bland words, with no roots in a real experience of faith and struggle.
Yes, I'm blessed to live in a beautiful place...though I longed to come to this particular spot because I was drawn to walk away from the privileged communities that had nurtured my vocation in the more recent past.
But I don't think I need to apologise for my address, or even for the fact that I was able, for a few years, to make my home somewhere that embodied all my childhood dreams of a house in the country with an apple tree and a porch full of gumboots. I am thankful for that (though the struggle to make ends meet as a self-employed family living in a Georgian house with Georgian drafts meant that for several years charity shops were the only place that I could shop at all)...but I don't think it defines me.
Well-intentioned but damaged, veering between faith and fearfulness, helpless and hopeful, aspiring to things I know I'm still far from managing...another child of God who needs bushels of grace just to get through...
That's the sort of definition I could own.