Hanging on the metal fence which currently deems half my garden out of bounds due to building work hangs a white board marked 'Hazards'. It's to communicate to all those coming and going what hazards are 'on site'. Now, I thought, perhaps in my naivete, that poisonous substances would be listed, any chemicals or gases - not so. On closer inspection last night two hazards were noted, the first 'slips and slides' and the second 'moving machinery'. I was quite amused! It seemed quite normal to me that rain causes mud, and mud is slippery, and that bulldozers and trucks move.
In this era when we are called to explain risk, just in case it happens, what do we do about faith? Growing up in a church, where the Vicar's motto was 'faith is spelt R.I.S.K', I was taught to do, what the world now calls us not to do, to step out and see what happens. In fact, that is one of the key themes of the Christian story....being beckoned on into the unknown, and has been demonstrated by thousands of believers through the ages who have done just that. In theological terms we describe this in terms of Vocation and Growth.
Our faith gets all the more counter cultural, as the God of surprises meets us only when we move on ignoring the named hazards (persecution, temptation etc). That's important as we forge ahead as a church not really knowing what shape the church will take in the future. As an archdeacon I want to encourage congregations to take risks, and to step out and do new things. I cannot possibly name all the hazards, or predict that plans will always succeed, but what I can do is to stand alongside, and to be there as we make the journey together. That all may sound foolish by those who would like to stay put and point out the hazards - but if Christianity is to go on we have to continue to step out in faith, being fully aware of what we are doing and open to be surprised.
I await to see what other named risks turn up in my garden in the next few weeks and today give thanks that I do not know all that lies ahead and can trust in God to be with me as I walk the path of faith.