Today I have been on a Vocations Day run by Chelmsford Diocese – a chance to explore what God wants me to do with the rest of my life and to find out how to get there. One of the most thought provoking passages I have read recently and with which I really identify, is this one. Today has been really helpful. I have found some answers but now seem to have lots more. I have certainly been challenged. This is an exciting time!
Not long ago I was invited to attend a friend’s induction as vicar of his new parish. After the service his new parshioners had put on a marvellous feast in the church hall. The trestle tables were set out with all kinds of goodies. The congregation streamed out of the church and into the hall. The place became alive with conversation and, as so often happens at these gatherings, within ten minutes the laden table were almost bare …
… Except for one large bowl of rice salad, which remained untouched in the middle of a long empty table. I happened to notice this salad and my heart went out to the person who had probably spent hours preparing it and had brought it as a love-offering. How hurt and saddened that person musit be feeling, I thought. And my second thought was ‘Why has nobody eaten it? It looks so appetising and inviting!”‘
Then it became obvious why the salad stood deserted and untouched, after the feast was over. There was no spoon. The fact hit me like a sledgehammer that night. I realised that the salad bowl was telling me something about the Church. It too is sometimes like a bowl of salad, full of what people are so longing to receive, so hungry for. But where is the spoon? Shall the treasure remain forever on display, the inaccessible centrepiece of an empty table? Do God’s people really have the means to eat the food he prepares for them or is it wrapped up in the cling-film of doctrine and set high on the top shelf or theology? And are they too well-trained to dare to mention the problem?
No-one can know the mind of God. Yet surely he, like us, is saddened and grieved when his hungry children stand empty-handed at his table because ‘the church’ has provided no spoons for the salad. Let us not complain … let us, rather, remember that we are ‘the Church’, and that it is up to us, his people, to make his feast accessible to all, in whatever ways open up to us.
I can add nothing to the salad. I venture only to offer a little spoon. And I can do that only because others have been ‘spoons’ for me in my own hunger for the living bread. They have made it possible for me to share in the feast.