As I mentioned I had a meeting with my Superintendent Minister this evening. This was a follow-up meeting to the one one we had about a week ago where we looked at a project application. I don’t think I articulated myself very well in this one (which I would argue is unusual, others probably see me as incoherent most of the time). I went into the first meeting unsure and a little bit afraid of his reaction to my ideas, the ideas, which on some level, I think might be inspired by God, (see musings on personal experience) but came out of it quite pleased (I went into more detail last time). The same cannot be said of this meeting, although I am not very surprised. The tone in which the meeting was arranged was not particularly optimistic.
So what was said. Alf was never too keen on the whole campervan thing, and that came up again, so that I was sort of expecting, although it was expressed far more plainly this time. We may be saying goodbye to Mwyndeg before I even knew her.
The other thing that came up arises from an awkward disconnect between what I want to do, and the most likely way of doing it (being an OPP). The OPP Project needs to be in a specific local setting, and Alf things “North Wales” won’t be specific enough to secure the funding.
So … he’s proposed a new project. That I have to work out if I am happy with.
It will be in Bangor and Holyhead Circuit, where I am now, mainly focusing on helping get a junior church/youth group/sunday school running in one of the chapels and supporting the work of Methsoc and building links between Bangor and other places such as Aberystwyth and Wrecsam, the the possibility of talking about the youthy stuff at places too.
This is obviously very different to the original plan, Mwyndeg is gone (that might have happened anyway!) and I lose the regional and peripatetic nature of it. It doesn’t quite match up with the idea I had of working in a big area supporting lots of different groups. It will be far more focused.
I could get really stroppy at this point. “Why aren’t people letting me do what I want” “Why won’t they understand my calling” but to do so brings out the worst of our theology that emphasises a personal relationship with Christ, becuase it implies that our personal relationship is to the exclusion of others, whereas we actually have a personal relationship with Christ in order to bring us into community with him and others, namely The Church. To expect everything to go as I envisaged it also borders on the messy end of allowing Personal Experience to be a source of authority. It can be used far too subjectively.
So now comes a time of trying to discern. Did I hear God wrong? Am I supposed to be based in this one circuit? Did I hear God correctly? If so, how do I now go about trying to follow that call? There are no quick answers to this, I need to spend a lot of time mulling it over, asking these questions of God, trying to listen for an answer, a feeling, an inkling of how to proceed.
One thing seems clear to me, it seems wrong to apply for this project if, as lovely as it sounds, it is not what I think God is asking of me.
So to the listening I go, awkwardly, uncomfortably; it has never been something I’ve been very good at! I often let other people do it for me (e.g. I didn’t hear God calling me to train to be a Local Preacher until nigh on half my church told me to!), I ma sure I often miss “God’s voice” and when I do “hear” it, then it is ambiguous; it tends to be gut feelings, reaction, little inklings, a feeling of being more comfortable with one path or another. I do not like this time of discernment, but I owe to to God, the Connexion, myself to enter into it. It seems to me that it is a reality of following God that we must go through these periods.