Monday, January 28, 2013

Digging by Silvia Purdie


The small spade slices through the sand
The small boy intent with effort
body straining
shoveling the sand out
and carefully dumping it on the growing pile.
The hole gets so big he almost falls in
toes gripping the edge to balance
heels lifting.
“Wuw” he congratulates himself
breathing hard
muttering under his breath.
“My hole is big!” he declares,
“I’m making a sandcastle.
A really big one.”
patting it down
scooping more.
Hole and pile,
work and pleasure

This summer our family was blessed to have a week camping in the sun on 90 Mile Beach. It was an astonishing experience, utterly different from normal life, up there where the oceans meet and tide and fish and heat and light become the rhythms of living.

We are home now, embarking on 2013, looking forward to all that a new year brings. My work is in parish ministry. Milson Combined Church is a smallish suburban church in Palmerston North, with a real heart for children and families. I also do what I can to support and promote Kids Friendly and youth ministry around the district. My husband is an Army Chaplain and we have 3 boys.

There’s always plenty to do. If we have the energy. And that’s a big part of what the Kids Friendly team does here in the Manawatu and all over, encouraging people to sustain their passion and commitment to children and families ministry. And a big part of that is keeping the work and pleasure inseparable.

As I watched little Arli digging on the beach, I loved the boundless energy as he worked. I reflected on how it’s like that with us and our ministries. We can work and work when we feel safe, when there’s other people cheering us on, when we’ve had a drink and a biccie, when we have the right tools and we can see that we’re getting somewhere!

I wonder which of those is missing for you as you begin all over again, another year of children’s ministry.

I wonder what your heart would say if you stopped to listen, what you need for yourself to sustain you this year.

Duty isn’t enough. Ideas aren’t enough.

I’m someone who’s full of ideas. I can always see the “Wouldn’t it be great if …!”

For us in Milson, it would be great if we had a relationship with our local school. It would be great if our preschool music families came to church. It would be great to get to know our neighbours. And we made good progress on these goals last year, and I have big hopes for this year. But each of these is way easier said than done, despite our best efforts. The knock-backs and rejections you get when you try to reach out and invite in, can be hard on the soul, draining on the energy.

In our own strength we really wouldn’t bother at all.

But it’s not just us, is it? It’s the Spirit of Jesus at work within us, that’s what works! And Jesus is like little Arli, digging away, never running out of sand, digging deep, building up, patting down, pouring out blessings inexhaustibly, inviting us again and again into his cycle of generosity. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” (Luke 6:38)

May the Spirit of Jesus Christ be real to you again in this moment, and through the many moments this year, as you plan, as you prepare, as you work, when energy comes easy and when you are tired, as you meet with children and adults, as you leap and dance or sit and listen, as you tidy up afterwards, as you rest. God bless you with pleasure in your calling. Amen.

This blog was written by Rev Silvia Purdie, minister of Milsom Combined Church in the Wanganui Manawatu Presbytery.  Silvia is an avid Kids Friendly supporter, encourager and practitioner.

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