I’ve been worried about this moment for months, possibly years. I knew it was coming but I was hoping I could fend it off for a little bit longer.
Whether it’s in our family or the Church, we are all but memories of a future generation yet to be born. That may sound depressing, but there’s also something life affirming about being the ‘stable bow’ that shoots the arrows straight, and that God loves for being so.
A short while ago, a pair of shoes were handed down from one member of my family to another. Nothing strange about that, except that on this occasion they were handed down from my youngest son to me. Yes, I am now officially the shortest person in our mixed-up nuclear family. Indeed, there’s an inverse correlation between age and height, going as it does from Jacob the tallest and youngest through to me the shortest and oldest. (In weight terms I’m still the heaviest, which is of more concern, but that’s for another article!)
In his book The Prophet, Kahlil Gilbran speaks of the relationship between parents and children as between the bow and its arrow:
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
There’s something both beautiful and terribly sad in the image of me as a bow shooting my children as arrows into the world. I yearn both for that lost innocence when they were no longer than my foot and also yearn that their futures might be bright and joyful. I know that ultimately their futures hold me in them only in memory.
Like families, churches also must shoot new arrows into the future in order to rejuvenate and flourish. In Barwick, the discussion surrounds the third Sunday service and how to develop the good work found in the AllTogether@10 service presently on the first Sundays of the month. In Scholes, the Jesus Shaped People programme is shooting out potential arrows of projects in various directions. Thorner is at an earlier stage, but nevertheless reflecting on where it may go in the years to come.
Jesus might not have had any children (unless you believe the Dan Brown theory) but he was constantly looking to expand the horizons of his followers, whether in terms of which of the religious duties were important and which got in the way of relating to God, or in terms of caring for the lost and the downtrodden, the foreigner and the outsider.