As many of you know, a month ago I attended MCC’s Readiness to Enter Vocational Ministry (REVM) retreat in Slumber Falls, New Braunfels, Texas. Situated on the Guadalupe River, the retreat centre provided the perfect location for reflection and meditation. For me, having travelled from London, it was more than just physically distant from home. Everything about Texas was strange and new, right down to the very large tarantula that made its home outside our meeting room.

There were 19 delegates at REVM, from MCC churches across the United States, as well as Leti from Edinburgh and me. We gathered together as strangers and spent three exhausting days reading, meditating, discussing everything from the nature of God and the church to the beautiful scenery and the joys of British comedy. All of us are at different stages on the same journey and it was wonderful to be able to hear other people discuss their journeys. The other attendees were a joy and the wisdom of the faculty was a trememdous blessing.

Whilst I was out there, I spent a lot of time meditating on the nature of calling. As we were settling in, on our first afternoon at Slumber Falls, we listened to a chant with the following lyrics; I am a hole in the flute, that the Christ’s breath moves through. Listen to the music, listen to the music. To me, these lines struck at the heart of what it means to walk this path towards ordained ministry. Learning to minister feels a lot like learning to play music, or to sing. When you take the time to relax and listen, something wonderful happens. When you learn not to just play your instrument but to really hear and channel the music, it can sound beautiful and is a real gift to everyone listening. Likewise, to really speak authentically through the spirit you need to be the instrument of the spirit, the breath, of God. You are not the musician or the composer, rather you are blessed with the opportunity to be the instrument. Sometimes the tune comes naturally, the cadenza in a concerto, and sometimes it is a real struggle, like practicing your scales. It takes discipline to learn to respond to the spirit and to speak authentically, and some days it seems almost impossible, but it is always worth the effort for the blessing that comes from being a conduit for the spirit.

You are all instruments of God, thank you for your music.

The Guadalupe River at Camp Slumber Falls, New Braunfels, TX