February Pastoral Letter
I am always grateful to those people who have expertise in a particular field of knowledge or discipline and who faithfully represent good practice. We all need them at different times and in various circumstances. A visit to my accountant a little while ago to help me fill in my self- assessment tax return was a case in point. I always believed that PAYE meant “pay another yearly expense!” Joking aside, this was followed a few weeks later by a visit to see a GP regarding a health issue, which thankfully was non-serious. Meeting with them made me think how grateful and reassured we should be to those well people who know what they are doing and are there to help.
We could add to the list those who specialise in the areas of law and order, medical research, conservation, the political sphere, and even everyday matters like building and plumbing and a host more. Professionalism counts for a lot these days. It’s interesting to see how often Jesus encountered certain people in the Scriptures who were described as “experts in the law.” Undoubtedly, they were well schooled in matters of faith and practice as far as the Jewish law was concerned. Most would have attended some well-established rabbinical school and they would be seen as the “go to” person for advice and instruction on all matters of the religious law.
As much as we need experts in various fields, it nevertheless seems to me that when it comes to following the greatest teacher the world has ever known, I can take certain comfort knowing that Jesus doesn’t ask for particular intellect or talent before we can be counted among his co-workers. He doesn’t require that we can produce proof of our qualifications, or that we have firstly received the best theological training on offer. If that were the case then we would never have heard of the first disciples. They were hardly considered the best material in the world’s eyes. I sometimes get a little dismayed when I hear people say words such as, “when it comes to praying I leave it to the experts.” I don’t believe Jesus draws any distinction between the prayers of a little child and those who have a Doctorate in Theology. That’s the wonderful thing about the inclusivity of the Christian faith. It begins not with your ability, but with your availability. Freely offer God, who you are, where you are and what you can, and believe me God will use you for His purposes, expert or not.