This months edition is provided by Revd Margaret Dimmick
A commitment for Life
A few weeks ago, the Gospel reading from the Lectionary was, I thought, about making a commitment and how to keep it. Luke, in chapter 14, tells us that Jesus was walking along with quite a following when he turned to them and told them that whoever wanted to follow him would have to make a difficult commitment: that they would have to be prepared to make a personal sacrifice to do so.
It would mean leaving father, mother, spouse and children to take up the cross and follow Jesus. He would be our first priority if we do. Can we accept that? Would our families wear that? In our house, we accept it, but we have had many years to get used to it. The family do come a close second.
There is a cost to consider in joining the church family. Jesus says that it will be like a ruler wanting to build a castle, who has to pay a designer, then buy land and materials, or a king or nation going to war, who has to find the money to pay the army of the size he needs and equip it. Then, when he sees the enemy coming, he sends out ambassadors to sue for peace because his army is smaller than theirs. Hmmm…that makes one think!
It is now the time of the year, St Francis tide, when as a member of the Third Order (which includes women and laity), I will be renewing my profession promise. It is a time to review the commitment I have made,along with about 4,000 other members of the Order in the world. We call our commitment a Rule and it is agreed with an experienced member locally. It is something which is a challenge, but bears in mind what we can realistically keep.
It begins with service to God, in worship, prayer and study. It then follows with service to our neighbour and the world, human and natural, to vulnerable people, to creation and natural resources, and to pursue a joy in doing so. It is based on Jesus’ summary of the Old Testament Law in two Commandments. Lastly, we consider ourselves in constructive rest and the satisfying hobbies we enjoy.
It is very helpful to meet and discuss aspects of our Christian lives where we work all this out and so we meet with an experienced Christian, who may be another Tertiary or a member of the clergy or another person coping with the same kind of commitments we take on in our lives. We look at the Rule together and commiserate over our struggle to achieve what we have promised.
After the exercise, I felt quite relieved. How had I done? Well, in some cases, I had done my best and had completed some tasks well though not perfectly, while others left me thinking that some improvements must be made. I should humbly accept, that by God’s grace, I have been given the chance to start again and try to improve, and with his help I will have the opportunity to do better next time!