Archive for October, 2016

My Other Wedding Ring

Posted: October 26, 2016 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

Maternity leave and seemingly endless hours trapped under a nursing baby have afforded me some time to think about things I haven’t thought about in a while. One of those things is my other wedding ring.

That’s not what it probably sounds like. Mike absolutely is the only man mad enough to have married me, and I’m not quite ditzy enough to have lost one ring and had to replace it with another, or at least not yet.

No, my other wedding ring is a symbol of my commitment to God, and I started wearing it around this time eight years ago. I had got into my head that I was meant to be one of the unmarried women who are “anxious about the affairs of the Lord” that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 7, and although I never felt pulled as far as the convent, I did want something to serve as a visible reminder of this sense of call and relationship.

At around the same time, I came across these words from Hosea 2:19-20: And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord. Hosea is a difficult book with some troubling imagery, but in the midst of all of that, these words seems to shine like a beacon on a hill, or ring out as clear as a bell.

That promise of righteousness and justice and love and mercy and faithfulness seemed so beautiful, and that image of betrothal struck a chord deep within me, and so I decided that the reminder I was looking for should be a wedding ring.

My mum offered me the eternity ring that my dad bought her when I was born, and I started to wear it not on the fourth finger of my left hand, but on the index finger of my right hand, which is the finger that Jewish women traditionally wear their wedding rings on. Perhaps I wanted to avoid confusing strangers who might assume I was married in the more conventional sense, or perhaps I knew somewhere deep down that I still needed to leave space for another wedding ring.

Either way, for me it was a sign of a covenantal relationship with God. If a covenant is an agreement, God’s side was already written in the scriptures and in my testimony, and so I wrote my side in the form of a series of vows. I must confess that I hadn’t read them for some time before writing this blog, but I am pleasantly surprised to realise that most of them are like threads which have woven themselves into my life. Of course there are snags and pulls in the tapestry, and I could definitely improve my needlecraft, but a picture of relationship is emerging from them.

I met Mike within a year of making those vows and choosing that ring, and soon realised that God had kept his promise to bless me in most spectacular if unexpected fashion, that I could still be “anxious about the affairs of the Lord” while in relationship with another, that here was someone who could help me keep those vows and hold me accountable to them. In fact, when I was baptised six years ago I gave a copy of those promises to Mike and asked him to do just that, and on our wedding day we sang ‘Be Thou My Vision’ so that our commitment to one another was entwined with our commitment to God.

And so that is the story of how I came to have two wedding rings.

I apologise if it feels entirely selfish of me to take up this blog with something so personal, but I believe I can speak most meaningfully out of my own experience, and so I offer this reflection in the hope that it may lead you to reflect on your own relationship with the one who would betroth you in righteousness and justice and love and mercy and faithfulness.

 

In which I begin to reflect on grace

Posted: October 20, 2016 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

Last week was the hardest week I’ve had since I’ve been back off maternity leave. The Squid was sick on Sunday and Monday, and in an early display of generosity, he’d passed the bug onto me by Tuesday. We were over the worst of it by Wednesday, but we both spent the week feeling a little grumpier than usual, and there were a few moments of quiet (and not so quiet) desperation as I tried to wrangle a fussy baby and maintain some level of productivity, all while wanting nothing more than to crawl under a blanket and sleep.

Then on Saturday, I had to go to a Baptist Leadership training day. We spent the morning thinking about spirituality and how it affects and is affected by our ministry, and towards the end we were led through the Examen, which regular readers and Revivers may already know is a way of praying I have a particular fondness for. The person leading the Examen suggested that we may be surprised by what came out of it, and so I pushed my thoughts a little further to see if there was a revelation in store for me.

It turns out there was. As I reflected on the week, I realised that although I felt guilty about having got frustrated with the Squid when he wouldn’t nap or when he screamed at me for having the audacity to leave him to go to the toilet, I felt more guilty about the fact that he didn’t hold my frustration against me. Of course snapping ‘can’t you just give me five minutes peace?’ at him didn’t help matters, but he was very quickly as happy and affectionate as ever, and it felt like cheating that he should still love me, even when I didn’t feel I’d earned that love.

Wrestling with that realisation, I started to reflect on what my sense of guilt says about my attitude to grace, which after all is love undeserved and unconditional. I have always known that God loves me in spite of all my flaws and mistakes, but it has never provoked the same sense of complete unworthiness and overwhelming gratitude that a smile from the Squid on a difficult day does. I think it should, and so I need to spend some time allowing myself to feel the full weight of grace, in order to be made completely weightless by it.

I’ve said before that I learn most about God through those around me, and at only fourth months old, the Squid has already begun to teach me a valuable lesson. I suspect this post is only a beginning…

Holy Sausages

Posted: October 5, 2016 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

The blog title might sound like something Robin would have said to Batman in the 1960s, but please bear with me, because I hope it will make sense by the end…

I really wish I could remember exactly what he said, because it was so lovely it nearly made me do a little cry, but at our September sentness Simon talked a little about the fact that our shared meals are in effect how we do communion, as we recognise the presence of God in the food and the fellowship.

A few months ago at college I was reflecting on the fact that I have experienced most of the sacraments recognised by the Catholic Church, and at some point in the celebrating of each of them I have experienced a moment of profound connection both to God and to those around me, and for a second it has felt like a circuit has been made complete. Or rather, I have experienced such a moment in the celebrating of each of them except communion.

For some reason, the circuit has never been made complete in the act of sharing bread and wine. At times I have felt close to God, and at times I have felt close to the people I have been sharing with, and they have been beautiful moments, but the two have never quite come together.

And yet listening to Simon last month, with my baby on my knee and the smell of sausages in the air, having prayed for and been prayed for by the community that I am blessed to belong to and privileged to serve, that elusive moment came very close.

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I think it has something to do with the joy of our worship and the generosity of our sharing. We pray from the heart rather than an order of service, and we share a true feast rather than a token.

We may not do anything that looks like most people’s idea of communion very often, but there is something holy in the way we share our meals and share our lives. I don’t want to ruin it by overthinking it, but I do want to celebrate it by giving thanks for it.

So here’s to holy sausages! May God bless them and all who share them.