Ephesians 4:11-16 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
Reflection Occasionally the publication of a book of Christian spirituality marks a new departure. Such was the case with the English translation of ‘Prayers of Life’ by Michel Quoist in November 1963. The title is appropriate as much of the book comprises prayerful reflections on various aspects of life, in a style not used previously, but often copied since.
One of these, entitled ‘Football at Night’, is prefaced with Ephesians 4:11-16, and includes these words: ‘It isn’t the position I hold that is important, Lord. But the reality and strength of my presence. What difference whether I am forward or back, as long as I am fully what I should be?’
Like many churches, ours has a ‘rogues gallery’ of previous ministers. Except for the most recently departed – moved, that is, not died – whose photo we still await! The day after I write this we a new minister will be inducted to the East Northamptonshire group of churches, of which we are part. One way of seeing the minister’s role might be as the captain of the team – and I am old enough to remember Bobby Moore’s superb captaincy of England’s World Cup winning team in 1966.
But, however good the captain is, a team will only succeed if its members play in the right positions, according to their talents, and cooperate with one another for the good of the team; praising one another when things go well and encouraging each other when they don’t.
Michel Quoist’s meditation includes questions which help us to reflect our performance, including, ‘Did I sit too much on the side-lines, criticizing the play of others, my hands in my pockets? Did I play my part well? Did I cooperate with the team without seeking the limelight? Did I battle to the end in spite of set-backs, blows and bruises?’
Prayer Lord, grant me the self-awareness to know the gifts you have given me, the wisdom to know how I should use them in the life of the Church, and the willingness to forgive others their faults, as I need them to forgive me mine. Amen.
The Rev’d John Matthews is a retired Baptist minister and member of Wellingborough URC.