18 July 2015

2 Timothy 4:1-18

“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.” (v. 13)

Psalm: Psalm 45


Today's reading is a glorious mix of the transcendent and the utterly mundane. The author flits with ease from the glory of winning the crown of righteousness to matters of petty dispute and lost property. Perhaps it's an apt representation of the life of a minister - trying to keep your eyes focused on Christ, seeking to draw others into his presence, but often getting tied up with admin, distracted by the humdrum.

For many in ministry - lay and ordained - the mundanities of church life can be a source of serious frustration: "I didn't train to be a local preacher/ get ordained/ respond to God's call so that I could spend my evenings sitting in committees!" We find ourselves lumbered with things that are perhaps outside our skill sets, that feel peripheral to 'real mission' - and certainly a long way from where our passion lies.

And yet, the little things matter - somehow, somewhere, to someone.

"If you love Jesus Christ, you will care about drains," said Archbishop Justin Welby at the Think Pray Vote Conference in February this year, alluding to a remark attributed to the 19th-century slum priest Robert Dolling.

The little things can be far more significant than we realise. All of life can be sacred. And how we go about tackling those less exciting challenges of the role to which we've been called can speak volumes about our attitudes and our priorities. If we display impatience, ingratitude - or worse - disinterest at the 'minor' tasks that demand our attention, we miss an opportunity to join God in the mission opportunity that lies before us.

In one of my favourite of the late Sir Terry Pratchett's books, The Wee Free Men, the protagonist Tiffany Aching is told, "Open your eyes, and then open your eyes again." And it is in taking this advice, opening her eyes to what is truly going on in the world around her, down to the tiniest blade of grass - this is what allows her to step into another world.

To Ponder

  • What are the tasks and challenges that frustrate or weigh you down?
  • If you opened your eyes, and then opened your eyes again, what might you see?

Bible notes author

Anna Drew

Anna Drew is Director of Communications for the Diocese of Canterbury. She is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's Daily Service and Prayer for the Day and a freelance writer on faith issues.