October 2023

Leaves on the line 

October is one of those months when the leaves begin to change and fall, and somewhat comical excuses come into conversations about why things don’t work. Leaves on the line may well be a technical problem for the railways, but we all know it also means, somewhat ironically, why is it somethings just don’t work as they should. 

There are often leaves on the line in the life of the church. Why is sometimes things just don’t work, especially when we rely upon the grace of God and seek his will? One reason is because we can spend too much time doing, and making mistakes, and not enough time praying. This is not the rather immature prayer of simply asking for this or that the way we want them, but the deeper prayer of spending time with God and being led by his still, small voice. So please do pray in October. 

We also suffer from our confusions and distractions because we place the leaves on the line with our judgements and preconceptions, our rulemaking and our creating in our own image. Our track must always lead to Jesus and our mission to make him known. 

October 4th is the day the worldwide church remembers St Francis. In his day, the church wasn’t working, and in prayer, his vision came to “Rebuild my Church”. This was to be achieved by simplicity of life, by generosity to others and total commitment to prayer. His focus was Jesus Christ.  

Recently, I was inspired by this vision again with a visit to Hilfield Friary in Dorset, and the licensing of a new Guardian. Hilfield welcomes all; do visit there (although you can’t get there by train). 

When our frustrations slow us down, we would do well to follow the example of Francis. 

Lord God, 

You made your church rich 

Through the poverty of blessed Francis: 

Help us like him not to trust in earthly things 

But to seek your heavenly gifts; 

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

+Stephen Sarum 

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