The following reflection is from Oscar Romero, an archbishop from El Salvador who was assassinated on this day, in 1980, for speaking out against the repression of Salvadorans by their government. I read it this morning before heading off to The Dale, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. May it be an encouragement to you as well.
A Future Not Our Own
It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.
This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.
If you read Erinn’s blog (erinnoxford.wordpress.com), you’ll know that this was a bit of a rough week for us at The Dale, and it seems to have been a particularly tough one for other communities and individuals too. Lots of inner pain and tensions bubbling over, turning into outward conflicts. Many factors and influences contributing to acts of defensiveness and sometimes violence. I attended a memorial for a friend from Sanctuary who died way too young, and heard stories about his hilarious sense of humour and also his woundedness. It was one of those weeks when you wonder how there can be SO much pain in the world, and why the Kingdom hasn’t come yet.
It’s weeks like these when I’m especially grateful for the music of Josh Garrels. Many of his songs have provided me (and many others) with encouragement at critical moments, and this week I’ve been listening to “Beyond the Blue”… a lot. One verse in particular has spoken volumes to me:
So lift your voice just one more time
If there’s any hope may it be a sign
That everything was made to shine
Despite what you can see
So take this bread and drink this wine
And hide your spirit within the vine
Where all things will work by a good design
For those who will believe
I don’t have a whole lot to add, except to ask for prayer (if you’re the praying type), for our community at the Dale as we continue to process and navigate the difficulties that arose this week. And also for the other communities and individuals who are struggling. And I offer up my prayer for you, dear reader, that you too will believe that everything was made to shine despite what you can see.
My friend “Matt”, the person doing battle with addictions who I wrote about in the last “Beautiful moments” post, is continuously astounding me with deep, faith-filled one liners. On Tuesday, he told me that he was at another drop-in where some people were giving him a hard time. So he went into the bathroom, looked in the mirror, and said to himself “Trust in the Lord. Not in other people. Just trust in the Lord.” He told me, “That was it! I came back out, feeling a lot better.” Beautiful.
On Tuesday evening I showed up to Bible Study at Coffee Time, and there were already 12 people gathered. By the end, there were 18 of us altogether!! I was totally blown away and a little bit overwhelmed. I gave the group the option of splitting up into smaller groups, but almost everyone responded immediately with a resounding “No!” These folks came out on a Tuesday night to study the Bible, and to be together. Beautiful.
On Wednesday morning we had our art drop-in, and were joined by a youth group from Tillsonburg. Some of the youth were eager to do some sketching, while others hung back. A long-time member of the community, who is a prolific paper cut-out artist, encouraged some of the less eager youth to try their hand at paper-cutting. He patiently taught them his craft, encouraging them and giving them pointers. Beautiful.
On Wednesday night, Steve and I were on outreach, and spent some time in Tim Hortons. A friend joined us for a while, and we had a good chat. As he was leaving, he turned around and said “The peace of the Lord be with you!”