Hanging In There

For me, one of the great joys of ministry is serving alongside a myriad of people, where each person has their unique life-and-faith journey.  From sharing these journeys there is much to learn about the infinite ways in which God’s love and grace is expressed, and about what human resilience and flourishing look like in people who have wrestled with life and faith through good times and bad, through prayers answered and prayers left hanging in time and space.   

As I write I’m mindful of people in both Palm Beach and Robina parish communities who are experiencing many different kinds of challenges at the moment, and patiently, faithfully, courageously, facing those challenges, day by day, with God’s help. I am inspired every day by encounters with such people.  

That said, I have to be honest and say that filling dual roles as priest in both Robina and Palm Beach parishes can be complex. Two unique parish communities, each with their distinctive charism, relationships, opportunities and challenges, sharing my week.  There is a great opportunity here though.  The rich network of lives and relationships in which I have the immense privilege of becoming interwoven provides daily opportunities to be surprised by divine encounters, glimpsing the face of God in people  who come to church and those who don’t, people who call themselves Christian and those who don’t, people who know exactly where the Anglican Church in Robina or Palm Beach is located, and those who don’t – and don’t care that they don’t.     

My ministry has always paid attention to the people who aren’t yet part of our worshipping communities as well as the people who already are. I think that’s the gospel imperative. In seeking out the lost, the least, the lonely, the doubters and the fed up, Jesus was always on the look-out for those who felt they didn’t belong, yearning for connection and community. There are all kinds of opportunities waiting to be explored as we allow our web of relationships to widen, to learn from one another and to mature as Christians.  

During Lent, we have had an opportunity to reflect on our own lives, and particularly the way we live as followers of Jesus.  The surprise for me this year, in what has been a very busy Lent where quiet time to reflect has been difficult to find (I know Stewart will ‘ditto’ that), is that as I have reflected on my own life, not in isolation from others but in the thick of busyness and complexity and people, I have discovered afresh that in being truly present to others, God’s life in me is enriched. When I respect and appreciate the presence of God I glimpse in others who may see things similarly or differently from me, I sense the presence of God shaping me to be more compassionate, kind and generous towards others.  Admittedly, this can sometimes be a painful experience! Being shaped by God is often uncomfortable for sure. And it doesn’t mean we can’t continue to disagree with people. Disagreeing respectfully is a sign of Christian maturity.  

Of course we can become overwhelmed by constantly being with people too. Taking time to be quiet away from others is vital for our wellbeing, and depending on our personality type, perhaps even essential. Being fully present to someone when you are with them is healthy. Taking their concerns with you and trying to solve their problems when it isn’t your responsibility can be unhealthy and even harmful to your wellbeing. Wisdom is having the courage to change what we can change – that is, ourselves – and leaving be what we can’t change – which is another person. Which is why, in situations where our physical, emotional or spiritual wellbeing is significantly compromised,  we may need to distance ourselves from another.  

One of the people who has greatly enriched my life this year is Claire Dean, who I work alongside at Palm Beach. Claire serves on a volunteer basis as parish administrator, looking out not only for parish procedures and processes, but also, and most importantly, for people.  Claire is also a recently re-elected warden. When I asked if anyone would be willing to write something for our blog as a reflection on observing Lent, Claire offered the poignant reflection below.  

What blew me away most when I read Claire’s reflection on how she has observed Lent, was the last line: 

Give up giving up – hang in there. 

You see, a few months ago, when visiting Rev’d Elroy Mee in hospital, (Elroy is a beloved retired priest from Robina parish) I asked Elroy what message she would like me to pass on to the Bible study group she had faithfully led for years, and wasn’t able to at the moment because she had become unwell. Elroy looked straight at me, smiled, and boldly said,  

“Tell them to just hang in there!” 

Hang in there.  

Holy Week encourages us to hang in there. No matter how challenging life is and how many curved balls life is gifting us at the moment, God is fully present in each and every moment. While the reality of resurrection may seem hidden momentarily, God’s promise to be with us always has stood the test of time and can be trusted. Therefore, we can have hope to face each next minute, hour, day.  

How do we know God is present? While God’s is present everywhere, reflected in creation and the rhythm of the seasons, there is a particular way God is expressed in the faces and lives of the people we encounter, even those we find difficult to live with. May we allow ourselves to be shaped by God so that more and more, we can respond with kindness and compassion, gratitude and patience, wisdom and love wherever possible.  

Enjoy Claire’s reflection. I wonder which line will capture your attention most. Take a moment to ask yourself why this is … 

Lent for Me  

Lent for me is a time to reflect and to reassess. 

A time to clear out the rubbish both material and emotional. 

A time to be kinder, more loving, thoughtful, respectful, and giving. 

I have managed to deny myself some favourite foods and drinks. (but not coffee) 

Each day I write in my diary something I am grateful for. Just simple everyday things. 

I am reading not only the ABM Lenten study God’s own Country, but The Things He Carried by Bishop Stephen Cottrell and The Julian Mystique – Her life & Teachings

I recite each day this poem below:  

What to give up –  A Lenten Reflection. 

Give up complaining – focus on gratitude.  

Give up pessimism – become an optimist. 

Give up harsh judgements – think kindly thoughts. 

Give up worry – trust Divine providence. 

Give up discouragement – be full of hope. 

Give up bitterness – turn to forgiveness. 

Give up hatred – return good for evil. 

Give up negativism – be positive. 

Give up anger – be more patient. 

Give up pettiness – become mature. 

Give up gloom – enjoy the beauty that is all around you. 

Give up jealousy – pray for trust. 

Give up gossiping – control your tongue. 

Give up sin – turn to virtue. 

Give up giving up – hang in there.  


Thank you Claire.  

With every blessing for Holy Week,