Getting it right
"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward." Matthew 10.42
I do it every time! Straight back into the fray with no time to catch up and a heavy day of commitments. This time it was our annual Presbytery Conference. As Clerk, I am responsible for taking the minutes, so I have to be present and I have to pay attention. Fortunately the second half of the day was given over to a reflective exercise led by Steve Aisthorpe, who has just authored a new book entitled 'Re-wilding the Church'. That's serendipity... just when going back to work might have felt like stepping onto that treadmill, I was being instructed to take time out, read a Psalm, go for a walk, relax and think - or not.
Of course we need to be doing things. Christians believe God makes all creatures for a purpose and he gifts us accordingly. Not to use those gifts is to defy our Creator and to deny creation of our contribution - to the well-being of society and of the ecosystem we inhabit and share with our fellow creatures and all living things. But we need time to reflect in order to check that we are actually contributing and not detracting. My mother recently sent me the link to an open letter in The Guardian, addressed to world leaders by Nemonte Nemquino, an Amazonian tribal chief. She berates them for their spiritual poverty and the harm they are doing to her home and how we all stand to lose on account of the environmental impact of our resource-hungry way of life. It inspired a challenging 'Thought for the Day' on Radio 4 by Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James Picadilly.
Over-working is always unwise and, when it is for a cause that does more harm than good, then it is also counter-productive. Think hard about what you are going to do today. Will it add or take away from the well-being of your social and physical environment? Will it bring glory to God or misery to others? The tiniest positive gesture, or indeed the absence of harm, is better than a colossal effort with a negative impact. To look back on the day and realise that you have made a positive gesture, however humble, is surely better than having exploited hundreds for your own self-interest? Jesus talks about offering a cup of cold water. What might that equate to in the situation facing you today?