“Man makes plans, but God changes them”.

RAMBLING RECTOR

 

THIS IS THE FINAL EDITION OF RAMBLING RECTOR!

 

 

 

SUNDAY 28 March 2021     

As we have now passed the first anniversary of the pandemic lockdown, and as we are planning to restart in-person worship on Easter Sunday, it felt like the right time to conclude the Rambling Rector series. This week, like many of us, I have been both looking back, and looking forwards.  As I looked back, I discovered this piece for Rambling Rector, written for the first Sunday of the lockdown – but as far as I can see, not actually used.

As I re-read it, it felt like my voice echoing across the intervening months, and I wonder if this voice from the past will speak to you, as it has to me today.

 

REFLECTION originally written on 25 March 2020

There is a saying that “Man makes plans, but God changes them”.  It is based on a verse from Proverbs (Proverbs chapter 16 verse 9) which reads: - ”You may make your plans, but it is God who directs your actions.” ***   I believe that God will be changing us as individuals and as a society through the present circumstances.

 

As a vicar, at least up until recently, it is part of my job to make plans, and to organise events. As I look at my diary now – it is full of things that have had to be cancelled or postponed.  In my own diary, I use the method I learned when managing a health centre (in the days when we used appointment books rather than computer systems) – a firm CX written through the entry. There are very few entries in my diary now that do not have CX written through them. Church events, family times, trips out with friends. Who knows when those dates will be re-scheduled? All our carefully managed diaries, the calendar on the wall, the Filofax, the electronic organiser – all changed! I know families who have had to set aside plans for baptisms, weddings, special holidays, new jobs.

 

Our plans have changed, and we to are being changed. Someone said to me this week that even in the darkest days of the war, people could gather for a gossip over a cuppa, or a sing-song in the pub, which we can’t do now. True enough, but we now have easy access to phones, social media and 24/7 news and can ‘share’ instant communication, at the click of a button. Meetings have become ‘virtual meetings’ on Zoom or whatever. Hugs have been replaced with virtual hugs, conveying a kind message, a word of encouragement.

 

In the space of a week, our society is changed beyond anything we could have imagined. We are being changed by the changed circumstances. On one hand, I am contacted by complete strangers who offer help for the elderly.  On the other hand people in supermarkets swear at each other and fight over packets of pasta, and push timid old ladies out of the way in the frenzy to get a pack of toilet rolls to add to the ten packs they already have in their garage. Yes, we have all changed in the last few weeks.  For some it has brought out the best - care, compassion, concern.  For others it has brought out the worst – unkind words and actions caused by fear, self-interest and anxiety.  

 

I hope I am right when I say, that the ‘C’s will win, and our diaries will be marked in the coming days with the care, compassion and concern that we show each other.  And alongside the C’s will be the X, the cross, which has become so real to us in this time of Lent.  The ‘X’ the Cross of Christ reminding us of a sacrifice for the sake of Love, love unto death, and beyond death, Love triumphing over hatreds, Love in the midst of pain and loss, the God of Love who is the one certainty amongst all our present uncertainties.

 

 

*** There is a Yiddish/Jewish saying Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” that is, “Man Plans, and God Laughs.”

which is not what I think at all!

 


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