letting go of the kite

On the last Sunday of Epiphany, I preached on a Greek Orthodox custom of kite-flying after Forgiveness Sunday.  The game is this.  On the Sunday before Lent, we forgive each other.  On ‘Clean Monday’ everyone goes to the hills to fly kites (marking freedom, joy and spirit soaring) and to have a picnic.  (All the central themes of the sermon were stolen from Ross Thompson’s  Spirituality in Season, so if they sound familiar…)

At the end of the sermon, I suggested that on Ash Wednesday, we let the kite fly free — blown by wilder winds, driven by God without our holding on to control.

The image came back to me today as I prepared one of our worship leaders to take a particular service for the first time.  This person has led worship before, and has been heading towards this day for a long time, but it is still a ‘first’, and it was exciting standing on the edge of it.

The congregation in Dunoon has grown so much in the past three years, and I realised today that my letting to of the string might be exactly what they need in order to fly.  Now, I don’t for a moment think that it is good for congregations to be without priests, and I hope that these congregations soon find a priest to live among them.  But, at this precise moment, my going away might actually spur a type of growth which could never have happened while I remained.

I can see so many of them beginning to think in a new way about what they will need to do once I’ve gone.   The congregation have been good at looking out for each other for a while now — but I see more and more people thinking strategically, acknowledging what they can offer, and calling others to use their gifts wisely.

Lots of kites flying free.  Quite joyful, really.  Though the image must be held with prayers for a summer of light winds.

19 thoughts on “letting go of the kite

  1. Profoundly true. As also in ‘unless a grain of wheat…’

    However, keep a finger on the string of my writing a while longer yet – it still needs nudged to do stunts.

  2. UUUum force of circumstances puts a distance between congregation and writing, and ‘lay’ somehow only works in a congregational context for me. ‘Writing as stunt flying’?? Sure!

  3. Ah generally – egocentricity is my major failing. Um, well, perhaps, in so far as it generally implies a good deal of tugging on strings. Dunno how far the lay really get to fly free at all.

  4. I’ve just had it pointed out to me that the lay are more free in the world they can reach than are the ordained. It came as an interesting thought.

  5. Yes. Any time clergy talk about God people think “well, that’s what you’re supposed to say.”

    When ‘normal people’ do it, people are surprised and more likely to listen.

  6. Yes – I can write fiction as I choose, if I were a bishop for instance, there would be scandal.

    Stunt flying because tension (like the tension of a sonnet) produces the best results.

    But IN the church, the lay person is less free – we need more approval to operate at all.

  7. ‘goforchris’ You are totally correct. When ‘normal’ people are released to work in the world then the ‘universe’ changes. The Church has awakened to this fact but sometimes the ‘normal’ people are not aware that they have the freedom that God has given them. ‘Rosemaryhannah’ ‘normal’ people do not need approval to operate in the Church they just need to get on with the job and stop asking for permission. This has been my personal position for the past fifty years and I am seeing the ‘normal’ people taking their place in the work of the Kingdom on an everyday basis

  8. I think we have two angles going here: ‘in church’ and ‘in the world’ — thus slightly different emphasis.

    I suspect Rosemary could give Zebadee a run for his money with ‘just getting on with it’, but that there is a question of authorized ministries and transferability of skills in the shadows.

  9. On this issue I can only adapt the phase of Martin Luther

    ” Here I stand”. No compromise and no surrender of my views

  10. Don’t think we spent long together.

    I took the responsibility for action in a local situation when it was clear that the congregation was dying and the hierarchy were powerless to help in any way. I undoubtedly exceed my brief, but I did it with the good will of the congregation. I did it with a lot of prayer and the support of clergy, some of whom knew the situation intimately. I would do it again.

    BUT – I still believe that it is utterly necessary that anybody taking a position of authority in the church must do so with the authority of the church. The bigger church really does matter because it does enforce some standards, some unity, and some development. If we are all members of one body, than one body matters.

  11. Rosemaryhannah you have totally vindicated my position in your first paragraph. Thank you. With regard to your second paragraph I do understand your views. Sadly at times those in authority do not see or hear for what ever reason and the decision has to be taken to remedy the situation, or attempt to. Sadly only today I listened for an hour and a half to a wonderful person who was breaking her heart over a situation that ‘authority’ could not or would not see or hear although they are aware of the problems and difficulties. In this particular parish people are turning to the humanists for naming ceremonies, weddings and funerals as they are giving up on the Church. If ‘authority’ will not attempt to right possible problems, and there are many, then we the humble people ,sadly, have to take matters in to one’s own hands. In this parish this is exactly what is going to happen.

  12. But there was a difference – I was not in conflict with authority – they were miles away due to the geography of Scotland. There WAS nobody else on the ground in the locality, and those who were nearer were supporting me.

    It is rather a different thing to get embroiled in a conflict. I think we have only to look to conflicts here and abroad to see how damaging it is when individual opinion starts on a path of conflict.

    There is, to me, a heap of difference between filling a gap and starting on a conflict. I simply filled a vacuum with the approval or tacit approval of those actually concerned.

  13. I am totally in support of you and your ways rosemary hannah and I do look forward to meeting up with you again and listening to you. I will do anything to avoid conflict if it is at all possible. This attitude of mine is well known to the rector of Dunoon.

    I also have a ‘F’ for diplomacy and tact. I think that the ‘F’ means fantastic.

    On a more serious note sometimes, regretfully, conflict cannot be avoided and has to be dealt with. This one has to be prepared to do even when it means one will be personally hurt at the attitude of others.

    One reason I am a Christian is the example of Jesus who did not seek conflict but did not walk away as he could have done. His action changed the world. Having said this I do believe that we should not go out of our way to make conflict in any way but always wherever we can try to be peacemakers at all times if at all possible. Conflict resolution must always be our aim.

  14. “I also have a ‘F’ for diplomacy and tact. I think that the ‘F’ means fantastic.”

    what a wonderful pair of sentences.

    I suspect that this conversation has gone as far as it can on the blog. Thank you all for being so honest.

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