Today has been somewhat gentler. I few chores, a gentle drive back to college and a very long chat with a good friend. Not much work done, but a definite sense that I’ve been frantically on the go without a break longer than Sunday afternoons rugby match on the TV. Really looking forward to a #dayoff with Graham on Saturday though it comes with an early start getting our son to his oboe lesson and youth orchestra rehearsal an hour from home by 9.30am.
The second temptation of Christ, in Matthews ordering of the events, seems to suggest that should Jesus fall, he will be saved by the angels of God. We’d all like that wouldn’t we, someone to save us every time we make a mistake, take a wrong turn, trip up? But life’s not like that, and we have to live with the consequences of our actions, whether they be intentional or not.
What also strikes me before reading Maggi Dawns reflection on Matthew 4:5-7 was that the Devil was offering Jesus something he didn’t actually need. He wasn’t going to fall, to fail, to branch out and take risks on his own, because, apparently unlike the devil, Jesus understood exactly who he was, the Son of God (Matthew 3:16-17).
Maggi talks about the use and more specifically the abuse, of spiritual gifts, to gain money, fame and fortune. We’ve probably all seen tele-evangelists doing their thing, and I can remember how shocked we were travelling in Uganda in 2006 at how much of that style of imported television was being made available on Ugandan TV. She goes on to make the point that whilst material wealth is a far cry from life as a non-stipendiary minister, the dangers that go with local fame for spiritual gifts are no less of a danger.
Here’s something that’s a special challenge to me, given that only on Friday, I said once again that the creative act of writing sermons and leading worship, is one way in which I feel close to God. That’s not a bad thing of itself, but what Maggi is highlighting is the danger of that being the only reason why I would chose to preach and lead worship.
I have on my desk currently the Liturgy of Ordination for Deacons, in which they
“called… to serve as heralds of Christ’s kingdom… to proclaim the gospel in word and deed, as agents of God’s purposes of love… [and] to serve the community… with their fellow members…”
Being a deacon, and even when ordained priest, you always remain a deacon first and foremost, is about service to others working collaboratively alongside fellow ministers, ordained or lay. In all the excitement of being ordained (which was a key emotion in yesterdays events), feeling as though a long journey of discernment and training is finally being fulfilled in God’s sight, I must remember that this isn’t about MY calling and MY place in the mission and ministry of a particular community, but about God, what he’s doing, who he wants me to reach out to in Jesus’ name, and the joys and burdens of other peoples lives, not my own spiritual gifts and preferences.