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One of the downsides of ministry is being out-of-step with the liturgical season. While in Lent, our thoughts are on Easter; on Pentecost we are planning our Trinity sermon; before Advent has begun, the carol sheets have been sent to the printers. For those of us engaged with church ministry and worship leading, it sometimes feels as though we’re missing out – not taking time to be in the moment.

Let me tell you now, it is much worse in the commercial world! In the midst of a record heatwave, I have been thinking about Christmas. When there are 10-foot high custom-built light-up reindeer involved, one needs to allow plenty of time for planning! Thankfully, decorations aren’t my responsibility, but I have been planning for Christmas cards, carols on the malls, and more.

Glancing up from my notes on the various merits of 'Deck the Halls' versus 'The Holly and the Ivy', I caught sight of the parched grass and deep blue sky and realised that not only am I not in the moment, I am about five months adrift of the moment.

Planning for the future is important, but as chaplains our gift is to be in the moment with people. For those working at Bluewater, an encounter with a chaplain may be the one time in their working day when they meet with someone who doesn’t have an agenda. Customers, colleagues and supervisors all have business to get on with which dictates the subject of conversations and the focus of activity. Chaplains, on the other hand, don’t have business to get on with. Chaplains have no agenda, no demands to make.

I’m reminded of the hymn 'Brother, Sister, let me serve you', which has the line “I will weep when you are weeping, when you laugh I’ll laugh with you.” Chaplains come to be with people where they are – whether in joy or sorrow. We give people space to talk about and focus on what matters to them. Joining with someone in celebration, in mourning or in contemplation is a powerful thing to do – it creates a bond of shared experience. Allowing the other person to choose the subject reinforces that bond with dignity and respect. It sends a clear message: “I understand that this is important to you, and so it is important to me. Your thoughts and concerns are important; you are important.” The love and respect conveyed by a chaplain it incredibly precious, for in it, there is an echo of God’s love, being transmitted into the world.

Having sorted out a draft carol list, I am firmly shelving that until at least November and returning to my rounds on the malls. It is my prayer this month that I (and all of KWM) might be truly in the moment with people – without plan or agenda, but trusting to the Holy Spirit while joining with others, and hopefully sharing a little of the love of God.

Psalm 136:26

Ella Sibley - ella@kentworkplacemission.org

Usual office Hours
Monday: 10.00 - 13.00
Tuesday: 14.00 - 17.00
Wednesday: 10.00 - 16.30
Thursday: 10.00 - 16.00
Friday: Closed

O give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Registered Office:
Kent Workplace Mission,
c/o Larkfield Methodist Church,
New Hythe Lane, Larkfield, Aylesford, Kent,
ME20 6PN