Vocation in the church - even for the unworthy
Those close to me will know that on the 16th February 2015, I got onto a plane in Cape Town with a
Suitcase, my daughter and £300. I didnt know it at the time, but there was no turning back.
Having spent the last two years in South Africa, the country of my birth, I had decided to return to the UK, my home and country of origin. I was walking - no running away from a relationship that had collapsed around me and that I could do no more to rescue. It was like escaping a burning building, that I myself had unintentionally set on fire.
As a Christian, I had gone to church most days in South Africa and took communion on average three days a week. I prayed everyday, in private several times a day. My office was in a rented building that was an Annexe to St Georges Cathedral in Cape Town.I had access to clergy that others watched from afar, and yet I still couldnt find the peace and comfort that I desperately wanted.
I frequently ate Friday morning breakfast with Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Enjoyed the company of his daughter Mpho, had conversations about the world over tea with the Dean of the Cathedral Fr. Michael Weeder and had the pleasure of passing conversation with the Archbishop Thabo Makgoba. NONE of these gracious people knew the pain I was suffering. I had to leave my favourite quiet sunny spot in the Cathedral cloisters where I used to retreat with my sandwich and juice and to meditate after my lunch, to truly find myself overseas in the cold miserable winter of Scotland.
My ex partner used to call me a religious tourist. At the time it was meant to hurt. But I have taken the term and turned it into something positive. Because my faith has been and continues to be a journey and it has taken me from Synagogues to Churches to Cathedrals and back, when I returned to Glasgow I could not go into St Mary's, my mother church. It was simply too painful. The first time I went in, I looked at the pew where Jaye and I had sat together, in the same place, Sunday after Sunday. I grieved for us for our shared faith. After all she had influenced my path to Christ. I went on the Alpha course. It drove me to ask the questions that led to my baptism.
And yet the same issues that drove me from Judaism can still threaten my life in the Church. Ive always wanted to do more. To be more. I am self employed - by necessity rather than choice, but again I believe this is divine providence as these circumstances have given me access to the church that others cant have.
Those that have read my previous posts know that I have plodded along waiting for G-d's will to manifest and to direct me. I met a female priest that simply turned my view on the church inside out and then turned it inside in again. She is a true ambassador for Christ despite her own suffering, and also a warning that Satan tries very hard to detract from those who are truly invested in their faith.
The breakdown of my relationship, the impending death of my mother, the struggle my family has been having financially are all tools that Satan has utilised to detract from my relationship with Christ and then when in my darkest hour and while looking in the most unlikely of places, Jesus sent me a rescuer. A priest. A woman whose own journey has been difficult and filled with stumbling blocks and yet she has not left her saviour. She has felt alone and abandoned and at times bereft of her life past, but has gracefully simply hacked her way through the jungle she found herself in and called out to Christ and he has answered.
She was sent to cross paths with me so that G-d could remind me that this journey is a not a simple road trip, not a fun day out, That our choice to serve Christ is a lifelong commitment that we take and even when the going gets tough we have to keep going. Some on the same journey will trip us up, sometimes intentionally, sometimes without realising their own folly. But when Jesus wants us for his own, the rules of men matter not. When we trip up on that journey and we dare to stand up and start following that path again, G-d reappears in all sorts of forms to make it a reality, to open doors and create new avenues.
My biggest problem in finding my rightful place in the church has been spurred on by guilt. I have always felt so unworthy. My whole life has been a series of incidents which of course I now realise have been designed to teach me and drive my spiritual journey. I reached a point last year when i decided that I was simply just too tired. I didnt want the drama any more. And so I simply decided it would stop. And for the most part - it did. When this actually materialised, I realised I could decide anything and it would happen, it was simply up to me to make it happen.
And so this very quiet fantasy I have had since I first witnessed the Thurifer swing that thurible with such gusto in church just under seven years ago has come full circle. I have always wanted to do it. I admitted this to my vicar after a confession this week. And he smiled and said "Why not?" I mentioned this to Michelle and she said I should train as a server. She knows how I LOVE ritual and the Liturgy. She knows how I love Jesus. And so I have taken my first step in finding my vocation within my church. I would never be able to become a Deacon as Ive been divorced twice (Some sins we pay for throughout this life) But Jesus has plans for me and by becoming a server I can satisfy my need for ritual service and also find a mission amongst the poor and elderly to satisfy my need to be part of Evangelical service.
And all this has happened because of the love and encouragement of a priest, whom herself has been judged and obstructed.
I pray that this priest will be rewarded for her selfless and compassionate contribution to souls such as mine. No strings attached, no judgements, just simple straightforward care, compassion and direction, that means that today I can walk into St Mary's and its is no longer the past that haunts me, but the present that inspires me and gives me a place to get respite for my soul.
Finally my path opens before me as an ambassador for Christ because a priest who has understood my struggle, my pain and my suffering has switched on the light!
If you want to read her blog (mostly directed at Childrens ministry) have a look at Foundations in faith. And remember those who are the best to guide us through the most difficult journeys in life are those that have already travelled those paths.
Ruth, a free range human being and a middle aged mum of three adult children and very young grandmother to two little girls, is a glass artist, and a digital strategist, She retains the right to change her mind about anything and believes in a compassionate approach to most things, you can contact her using the contact page on this blog.
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