On the last Sunday of Epiphany, I preached on a Greek Orthodox custom of kite-flying after Forgiveness Sunday. The game is this. On the Sunday before Lent, we forgive each other. On ‘Clean Monday’ everyone goes to the hills to fly kites (marking freedom, joy and spirit soaring) and to have a picnic. (All the central themes of the sermon were stolen from Ross Thompson’s Spirituality in Season, so if they sound familiar…)
At the end of the sermon, I suggested that on Ash Wednesday, we let the kite fly free — blown by wilder winds, driven by God without our holding on to control.
The image came back to me today as I prepared one of our worship leaders to take a particular service for the first time. This person has led worship before, and has been heading towards this day for a long time, but it is still a ‘first’, and it was exciting standing on the edge of it.
The congregation in Dunoon has grown so much in the past three years, and I realised today that my letting to of the string might be exactly what they need in order to fly. Now, I don’t for a moment think that it is good for congregations to be without priests, and I hope that these congregations soon find a priest to live among them. But, at this precise moment, my going away might actually spur a type of growth which could never have happened while I remained.
I can see so many of them beginning to think in a new way about what they will need to do once I’ve gone. The congregation have been good at looking out for each other for a while now — but I see more and more people thinking strategically, acknowledging what they can offer, and calling others to use their gifts wisely.
Lots of kites flying free. Quite joyful, really. Though the image must be held with prayers for a summer of light winds.