In this presentation I explore a model for ministry.
If I asked you to give me a summary of the Bible in a couple of sentences, what would you say?
In my view the first two verses of the Bible provide the key to unlock the rest of it. These two verses are a summary, and what follows in the rest of the Bible illustrates this summary. Use the wisdom of these two verses to reflect on where you find yourself now. I offer a few thoughts.
“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, and the spirit of God swept over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2)
This is the beginning, not the end.
There is a formless void, darkness, and what is termed “the deep”. God does not create this. It is just there. But God dwells in the midst of it all. This is where the spirit of God is, creating something new.
The “deep” is described elsewhere in the Bible as a trembling, a disturbance, a stirring, or a storm within a person, in the mind, in circumstances or in the environment around us. It is a stirring, which can also be scary, but in which new things happen. See for example, Jeremiah 23:9, Daniel 7:2 and John 5:2.
In Sanskrit the word is “vritti”, which signifies a whirlpool.
This is what is being described in the two opening verses of the Bible. And such scenarios are real throughout the Bible.
The stories of the Bible are reflections of a people, their journeys in life, and how they experienced and interpreted God in the midst of the harsh realities of their meanderings and troubles, conflicts and hurts, and the points at which they found meaning and hope.
The Word of God is discerned by the people of the Bible as they reflect on their often terrifying and troubling experiences. Their reflections reveal God who is with them in their travel and travail as the still and secure and creative presence at the heart of it all. When everything seems out of control the love and presence of God holds firm. Biblical witness illuminates and unfolds this insight.
The life of God flows in the “deep”, and is the ground of all creation. God weaves darkness and the deep into all creation, makes new and beautiful things, and calls human beings to share in this work, to protect and take good care of life and all created things, and to do all things with wisdom (Genesis 1:26-28).
The work of any true guru, and ministry, is to model exactly that. To be prepared to dwell in darkness, to accompany people in darkness, and to do all things with wisdom. A true guru will not lead people from darkness to light. A true guru will sit in the darkness with people and help them to find wisdom from the deep, and stillness within the stirring of life and the whirlpool of the mind. A true guru does not say there is a silver lining to every cloud, and does not speak of light at the end of the tunnel.
A true guru is tuned in to the attendance and echo of God in the storm, points to God in the shadows, and helps people to see darkness as a place of sacredness. So, a true guru will not hurry people out of darkness, or speak negatively of emptiness, and will be healing not hurting, hospitable not hostile, holding out hope not despair, modelling holiness.
This is a model of ministry I have found helpful.
- What does the concept of ‘darkness’ mean for you?
- What do you envisage, positively, will emerge from the pandemic experience?
- What is your ‘model of ministry’ as a Christian disciple today?