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Being present in the flux and flow

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 18 November 2012

As I prepare to leave on Advent Sunday I find myself searching again for these words of St Augustine.  ‘Trust the past to God’s mercy, the future to God’s providence and the present to God’s love.’

St Martin’s is the first place where I have served as a priest while having a lay role beyond and I’m not the only one here.  And I have learned that it’s a gift to the church but a challenging one.  Of course all clergy are lay too – we are all part of the people of God – and all the people of God are part of the royal priesthood, called to be icons of Christ in the way we work out our vocations in the world.  But we don’t, as a wider church, find it easy to hold these things together.  The church finds it hard to keep in the flow of its dynamic movement from its gathered renewing worship to its work in the world – maybe calling a new Archbishop with such powerful lay experience testifies to recognising the challenge.

St Martin’s has tried to surf this flow in particular ways, not least of course in the dynamic – sometimes turbulent – movement and interplay between worship, welcome, business, and ministry, especially to the homeless, all on the same site.  The radio waves of broadcasting magnify our voice and create relationships across the world – and also call us to listen to the responses and stories of people around the world.  So how does St Martin’s manage to do that double listening: listening to what the world is telling us, and to what God is saying to us about how we respond to and in the world?  How do we stay in the flow of going out and coming in, being sent and returning to be renewed?

I find myself returning not just to trusting the present to God’s love but being present to God’s love – the only place really which brings and keeps all of us, clergy and lay, gathered and scattered, visitors and those who are sent, together and in the flow of that constant stream.

Revd Rosy Fairhurst