Tag Archives: parenthood

Kneeling Before My Friend

side chaple

A pastor takes a moment from the business of the cathedral worship service to step into a side chapel, its windows overlooking the city in a wide angled panoramic. His heart is heavy and his eyes are brimming with emotion.

He feels the need to kneel before the centre piece of an altar and a cross. Checking that no one is around or could see him through the doorless entrance, he kneels, allowing the emotion to show in a measured way, the dam wall of pride and stubbornness holding back the deep waters of his swirling emotions.

“Save my children,” he stutters through gritted teeth, “I want them to know you lord.” And as he bowed his head in prayer and closes his eyes, he adds “save your church.” The silence and tears give way to a renewed commitment spoken to his Lord and King, “I commit myself to its survival, its future and I entrust my children to you. Amen.”

In those few moments in that side chapel, I wasn’t asking for salvation for my kids as much as I was asking the Lord, that my children might know Jesus as I do. As friend, shepherd, confidant. So that when they find themselves lost in the darkness that life can bring, they might know what being found by God feels like.

I long also for the healing of a broken church, filled with many different people’s, with diverse and entrenched views not dissimilar to my own. So kneeling before the altar, I recommitted myself to its future, its success, rather than listening to the naysayers, I choose instead a realistic hopefulness one rooted in faith in Jesus. I choose to hang my hat on the calling Christ has placed upon my shoulders, that of being a presbyter.

I don’t know what the future holds, whether British Methodism will rise much like the story of the fiery Phoenix of old, nor whether my children will know Jesus as shepherd and even Saviour in the same way I do. But I commit my way to trust the Lord knows what he is doing.

Broader speaking as pastors, lay people, whoever or whatever our role is in our beloved churches, of which neither the Pope, President, Moderator, Arch-bishop is head of but are able caretakers. For Christ is our head and he speaks through our leadership and our laity, through our community as a body of disciples and the community who don’t know the Christ who we follow. I wonder what are they saying to you?

Brothers and sisters let us lay our worries at Jesus’ feet, our fears and anxieties for what might become of us as a body of believers in the UK Methodist Church. Let’s live not as the persecuted or afflicted, not as cultural oddities, but as proud to be called Christian. May the term Christian, come to not be synonymous with racism, bigotry, abuse of others. But synonymous instead with a Jesus Christ who loves died and rose for everyone, gay, straight, men, women, kids, whoever.

I am Christian, a Methodist, a pastor, my identity is not denominationally bound, but Methodism is the home I feel most spiritually connected to. For its lack of religiosity, for its passion for the poor and marginalised and offering all people hope in Christ, for its failings and successes, finally for its future whatever that looks like.

Proverbs 3:5-6 With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow. (NRSV Translation)

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The Love Of A Son

I have been looking forward to sharing a brilliant and moving story called Father Forgets. However it seamed more appropriate to wait until nearer Father’s Day (uk time). William L. Larned, Father of thirteen children and governor of New Jersey, nearly three hundred years ago summed up a truth of parenthood. That as parents sometimes we ‘visualise (our children) as grown up.’  Or in other words rather than seeing  our kids as our young we put unfair expectations upon them or bend their spirits with overbearing criticism or so called words of wisdom. Enjoy.

 fatherandson

Father Forgets

Listen son; I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

There are things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road, I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before you friends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive – and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped. You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding – this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself overt he wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy – a little boy!”

I am afraid I have visualised you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.

I have to say I unashamedly sobbed listening to this something I rarely do, it touched a deep place in me. Not just of my own experience as a child but also for the times I forget to see my own beautiful children as my babies, who are as important to me as the breath in my lungs and the blood in my veins. So Fathers (and parents) let us, if needs be, rewrite our historical narratives of negative fathering, draw strength and wisdom from the good experiences of being fathered and step into the shoes of our offspring whenever we can, that their might be true connection that is meaningful, lasting and defining.

Happy Fathers Day

To See Father Forgets on you tube click here

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