|“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43.19)
I’m a planner. An organiser. A maker of lists. The way I like to deal with the chaos of life is to try to name it, categorise it, and file it neatly away. I cope with the terrifying uncertainties of being human through spreadsheets. I am the Queen of Spreadsheets.
Of course, I don’t really think I can control life’s ups and downs. I am not in charge – stuff happens which is absolutely beyond my control, both good and bad, and there is, I know, absolutely nothing I can do about that.
But it helps that I’ve got a spreadsheet. It helps that I’ve got a plan, or at least a bit of a plan and it helps to know that when terrible things happen – and they do – I won’t fall apart immediately. No. First, I will make a list. And as each day goes by, no matter what else is happening, I will be ticking things off that list and by this I will know that progress is being made, that I am moving forward.
I’ve been doing this for years and years – organising my family, my work, my volunteering. And now, I’m involved with this kind of thing here at Hornsey Parish Church, working with other people to draw up budgets, plan services and dream big dreams for the future through our HPC 60/60 project. I am happy in my little world of spreadsheets and lists, balancing budgets and playing with liturgy.
But now I have another trick up my sleeve, something new and exciting that I certainly never used at work before. I’m not sure it makes things easier, because it takes time and it adds more steps to the process, but it does give me confidence that I’m making decisions well.
My trick is prayer.
I don’t expect you’re surprised by this – it is after all what I do. In fact, you’re probably more surprised by the spreadsheets (especially if I tell you I have a spreadsheet that tells me what we’re having for dinner every night next week. Not even kidding).
But it might be a surprise to hear quite how thoroughly our plans are soaked in prayer. Meetings always start and finish with prayer, as we offer to God all the things we discuss, all the challenges we face and all the ways in which we might address those challenges. Every day at Morning and Evening Prayer the ministry team and others pray for this church and its people and again offer to God all the tasks and decisions of the day ahead or behind us. In our personal devotions, we pray for the church and its work and once again hold before God all the decisions and choices we have made.
And crucially, every day we try to discern where God is already acting – looking back and looking around and seeing where God might be working already, noticing where God is with us and ahead of us.
I’m sure that many of you also pray for this church, but I’d like to invite you to join in our prayers for discernment, asking that God guide us as a community in the weeks and months ahead. This church needs your prayers as we begin work on our next Mission Action Plan, our guide for the next few years, and as we push forward with the Hornsey 60/60 project. Like my spreadsheets, your prayers are an essential part of the way in which we make plans for the future.
And I’d also like to invite you to be part of a much bigger discernment, and to join with the Diocese of London in discerning God’s voice as it makes plans for the next 10 years. Like us, the Diocese is trying to work out what to do in the future by looking at what is happening now, by offering to God our hopes and dreams and also noticing where God is already working. For that to be really effective, the Diocese wants to know where we think God is already at work in London.
So where is God at work already? Where have you noticed God making changes in our community? What exciting new things is God doing?
Take a look around, pray – and share your insights with the Diocese of London via this survey.
And one last thing – lots of forthcoming events and news have been added to our calendar – don’t miss out.