If you take a walk down the high street of many of our towns, you will notice that numerous shops are closed and boarded up.  So many of the well known brands have shut down or moved to the retail parks.  It’s not that we don’t shop any more, it is that we don’t shop in the same way as previous generations.  Obviously, this is just part of a process that has been going on for years, because in the village where I stay there was in living memory over 15 shops on the main street, whereas now there is only one convenience shop.  That said, when I wander down a high street, I tend to focus on the shops that are open, as these are the shops that have life about them and that are beckoning me to enter.   

I think what we focus on is important in our walk through life.  Another example would be if I am outside on cloudy day.  I could focus on the dark clouds that cover the sky, however I scan the sky in order to look for the small breaks in the cloud and the blue sky behind.  It is these splashes of blue on a canvas of white and grey that bring me hope and help me to endure the concerns of a grey day.  In fact, it is also through these gaps that the sun can shine, which can yield a rainbow to be traced and enjoyed. 

Life in ministry at the moment seems to be full of challenges and it is so easy to focus on the grey and dark clouds, and I would be lying if I said that I have not suffered mentally from all the changes that we have had to endure over the past few years especially.  However, I have learnt that I can cope better with all the changes that come our way by looking for the blue sky, for those splashes of hope. 

Change is evident in the world and in our churches, and I think there is nothing gained by fighting it. The path we walk is a long, long path, which has had many twists and turns, well before we started walking on it.  Therefore, keeping our focus on the person who brings us hope is essential, because Jesus never said that following him would be an easy process.  Quite the opposite, in fact, as he prepared his disciples for the journey that lay before them. 

That is why, despite my constant concerns about whether all we are asked to do is possible, I try to keep my focus on all that brings me hope.  I need to trust that as ministry changes and we serve in different ways, then God will continue to bring moments of blue sky into my vision each day.   

Of course, the reason why blue sky brings me hope, is that it reminds me of those days when there are few clouds and the sun can be enjoyed in all its wonder, as it brings light to the world.  Likewise, the blue sky moments in our ministries remind us of all that God’s light is doing in this world, and of those days when we have enjoyed its wonder in our lives.  Therefore, I hope and pray that despite the challenges that we face at this time, we will have blue sky moments as we continue to walk the path that is set before us. 

Rev Stephen Ogston, Minister – Inch with Luce Valley