Sunday 14th June 2020
I hope and pray that this letter finds you well and in good spirits. The gospel reading for this coming Sunday is Matthew 9: 35 – 10: 8 and always takes me back to quite a number of years ago now when I was preparing for a job interview. I saw an advert in the Methodist Recorder for a Lay Worker post in the Doncaster Circuit and applied. What is remarkable is I managed to even though there was no contact telephone number or email address on the original advert but that is another story! I also later found out they already had someone in mind for the post and wanted to discourage applications. This was part of their plan but God had other ideas! After being shortlisted for an interview, I was informed that as a part of it, I would have to do a presentation on the verses 37 to 38 in Matthew chapter 9.
The wider context to the reading is that Jesus has assembled a team of people to work with Him to help take His mission forward. We read that Jesus had been moving through the towns and villages proclaiming the good news and healing the sick but he noticed that the people were like a sheep without a shepherd. He then informs the disciples: ‘the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ Matthew then goes on to list the twelve disciples and Jesus instructs His disciples what to do.
Focussing on verses 38 to 38, what do we learn for our own context? Well firstly, notice that we are instructed to ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers. Therefore our mission and ministry as a church should be rooted and grounded in prayer thus guided and guarded by the Holy Spirit. Secondly, this notion that the potential harvest is rich but the workers are few. We all know what that feels like! But at the same time, we must not lose heart and keep giving our concerns to God and looking to Him for inspiration. One thing which I have been really struck by during this pandemic is as a church we do a lot but how much is directly related to what we are meant to be doing and second how does it fit into our wider mission strategy. If after this is all over, we simply revert back to doing everything how we used to, I think it will be a great opportunity wasted. We are now at a crossroads as we begin to ease out of lockdown, we have an opportunity to re-imagine the church and how we move forwards, let us grasp it and embrace it. But why do we need to do it because as the scripture said people are like a ‘sheep without a shepherd’ and one thing which the current crisis has brought to the fore is how much people are searching for answers and fulfilment in life. The presentation was a success and I got the job, but the work continues.
May the Lord of the Harvest bless you as you labour in His harvest field,
Every blessing, Andrew.