I enjoyed an evening out with some of the men from Trinity down on the Tyne followed by a lovely meal. I was there just as an extra occasional ‘hanger on’ to that particular men’s LifeGroup who occasionally organise the odd trip and meal out.
After looking at some old Victorian steam powered Accumulator tower (don’t ask!), we had a brief time of worship: a spoken prayer for those who live, work and spend leisure on the Tyne followed by the writing of prayers on rice-paper before wrapping it around stones and catapulting them into the Tyne.
‘Setting sail’ has been a common recurring theme in my Christian life, particularly in the last 10 years of ministry’ having been located near the coast and in some cases, on river ports like the Avon in Bristol or major sea ports like Aberdeen. In Bristol, one of our church’s stated aims was to ‘pilot our communities into the safe harbour of Jesus’, an appropriate vision for a church in a former pilot harbour port.
As I’ve read more on the lives of the Celtic Apostles of Northumbria and Scotland, the more I’ve come across stories like that of Brendan et al, who would often set sail from Lindisfarne in tiny coracles, small boats big enough for one person, and just be carried out by the tide until they reached land and found others who still needed to hear the gospel of Jesus proclaimed to them.
We all have built into us that sense of quest and adventure and I think if we never actually gain that sense of pilgrimage or journey into our spiritual lives, we remain within the safety of what we build for ourselves – what Richard Rohr describes as our ‘personal salvation projects’…the lives we build for ourselves in the belief that our survival is the main thing when we are actually called to so much more.
Earlier in the day I was reflecting on this:
‘If anyone comes to me without leaving his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple’. – Jesus in Luke 14:26
What a tremendous challenge those words are. They really ask: in your journey, have you dared to move beyond the ‘home’ setting of your own making….have you sensed the real call to discipleship which calls us to lay down out most common assumptions and the things that could hinder us from a full-hearted devotion to Jesus?
My prayer this evening was: Lord, continue to carry me beyond the safe harbour of what I know. Give me all I need to set sail. Help me to follow.