Paul writes, “I am confident of this: that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
About a month ago we were just home from vacation and refreshed, ready to go again. The telephone rang. It was about 10:00 at night and on the other end of the line was a woman to whom I have been a pastor for 26 years. When I entered this parish, she was 12 years old. Now she is 38. I confirmed her, married her, went through her divorce with her, went through a couple of deaths, depression, attempted suicide, ordained her into the leadership of the church, stood by as she left the church one year, opened the door as she came back the next year, prayed with her, listened to her. This night listening to her on the telephone I thought, “I have been her pastor for 26 years and she is not any better.” After I hung up my wife said, “Who was that?” I said, “That was Regina. We are not very good at this, are we?” And Jan said, “Remember the kingfisher?”
And I remembered the kingfisher. We had been sitting at the shoreline of a lake in Montana and watching the kingfisher fish. The kingfisher is the “king” fisher, the best fisher, the bird that knows how to fish. This kingfisher was sitting on a dead limb out over the lake, preparing to fish. It is fun to watch a kingfisher fish. This kingfisher plummeted to the water and missed his fish 27 times. The kingfisher missed and missed and missed—and then, on the 28th try, he got one, a little three inch fish. Jan said, “Remember the kingfisher?” I said, “I remember—and it has only been 26 years.”
This is the context for spiritual formation. If you are in a hurry, you probably should not do it, because it is messy and lengthy and marked by much failure—burrowing into the soil of your place, your people, your congregation, your own life, sticking with it creatively, waiting for creation and covenant to form. Ω
Reflect: Do you find yourself impatient with your own or somebody else’s spiritual growth? Pray about this. What words or images come to mind?
What is this? Lent is the 40 days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. Traditionally it is a time of reflection and pilgrimage. To help you on this journey, Sanctuary has put together 40 stories from people both within and beyond the congregation, with associated questions for reflection and prayer. A reading will be uploaded every day of Lent. This year’s theme is Fruit of the Spirit. Why? Read this. #Lent2022. Real People, Real Stories: 40 Readings for Lent © Sanctuary, 2022. From Eugene Peterson. Living the Message. London: HarperCollinsPublishers, 1996: 332-333.
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