I find myself reflecting, with Ian Fosten (URC Prayer Handbook 2021 for today), that ‘we are rather in the habit of drawing up hopes and plans and strategies, and then asking God to bless the decisions we have already made.’ Rather like King David’s plan to replace the dusty movable tent that housed the ark of God, with a more solid, constricting home of cedar.
But then that story from 2 Samuel benefits from the very clear ‘word of the Lord’, indicating the direction and purposes of God. We are reading with hindsight, which makes it all the easier to see that God desired an ever-moving people; fleet-of-foot in their response to the word and not a community locked in an immovable dwelling.
Without God’s tweet or email and without hindsight – indeed even with them, moving from our plans is a real challenge! To free ourselves from the blinkers of habit, from the DNA of our churches, from a direction that harms ourselves and others, can indeed demand our commitment to listen, to pray, to be open and willing to be remoulded – not for the sake of it, but as a change of heart that seeks to return us to the way of the Lord.
To make the prayer ‘You are the potter, I am the Clay. Mould me and make me’, takes real bravery and honesty in self-evaluation: our own selves and our communal selves.
We might ask, what is God remoulding?
What of our own lives, our churches, our environment, our nations, and our global community needs reshaping and reforming closer to the heart of God?
So, in my personal struggle to reshape how much single-use plastic ends up in my bin, or how little I communicate with my MP about poverty in our nation, or as I realise again the devastating effect consumerism has on our mental health – may I be brave enough to sing ‘change my heart O God, may I be like you’.
God of free compassion, as we seek to trust your way and to return to your heart of love and justice, give us ears to listen and eyes to see and hands and feet to respond. Make us open and brave to be moulded by you and to pray as Jesus prayed: ‘yet not my will, but yours be done’. Amen
The Rev’d Martin Knight is minister of St Paul’s URC, South Croydon and South Croydon United Church (Methodist/URC)