Popped down to Slough briefly yesterday to join the people of St John's and St Michael's, Manor Park in their 24 hour prayer for the parish. Currently in vacancy, there is a local determination to discern what shape and type of ministry God wants for that part of the deanery. It was great to be among them and to add my prayers to many. There are currently two churches both in need of total refurbishment, an unsuitable incumbents house and much work to be done in a part of Slough where ecumenical and inter-faith relations are good and so necessary. New creativity will be key to the next stage for ministry in that place.
As I assembled my nativity set yesterday afternoon I reflected how much creativity had been necessary in God's plan. The choice of a person and place was surprising - young woman starting out with her man, David's city, at the time of a census. The method was unheard of - tell the story of what's happening to those working in the fields, and astronomers from afar can work it out for themselves with the necessary signs. The nuances, connections, whole picture, could never have been second guessed. We are all left to come to our own conclusions.
It may well be that some of our plans work out that way, but many do not through careful planning, and prudent resource deployment. Also we do not like lose ends, things not fully worked through. Allowing 24 hours to pray seemed a good start to me, the next stage would be leaving time for God to speak - through the various people who care and the outsiders to see what emerges, and then to have the boldness and courage to creatively respond in whatever way emerges.
Desire as we might for it to be so, God's plan is often far from tidy, we just need that courage to live in the ambiguity and allow ourselves to be surprised when parts of it make human sense!
What if ....... we did not act as if we had to make sense of it all?