Faith at Work XIX
"Mind the Gap". There have been several times recently when I have been with companies at the Science Park and they have been looking out for people to employ. Often applicants are expected to have particular skills or specific experience so that they can be effective as soon as they arrive. I have also heard some say that it is difficult to find young, freshly educated engineers with a good feel for how to design for realistic loading conditions – knowing how to do something needs to be complemented by experience in the field. It seems that there is a gap, or at least some required learning, between the theory and the practice of anything. How do we bridge it?
As we follow the church's year, we find there are similar gaps – we spent time over Christmas thinking about Jesus coming into the world on the one hand as a defenceless baby and on the other as the Son of God. After the twelve days of Christmas, we heard of the wise men coming at Epiphany to represent the global recognition of his worth. The Epiphany season finishes with his presentation, according to Jewish custom, in the Temple at Candlemas where Simeon praises God and declares Jesus to be "a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of your people Israel" [Luke 2:32] – there are many implied gaps there between the various religious traditions.
In the Gospel record, there is just one story of the twelve year-old Jesus coming to the Temple at Jerusalem for the Passover Festival and being left behind by his parents as they set off for home. Panic! Where is he? They return the day's journey and find him at the feet of the teachers "listening and asking them questions" [Luke 2:46] – he is learning the theory of life. Then there is a gap until he is 30 and we find John the Baptist immersing him in the Jordan, when "the Holy Spirit came upon him like a dove" and a voice came from heaven saying: "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased" [Luke 3:22]. At that moment, he was strengthened for his ministry by the Holy Spirit and affirmed by God himself – the gap, it seems, has been bridged!
After that, he spends time alone in the desert being tempted, something we might want to relate to our initiation at work, a period of struggle, a gap of unknowing; we don't hear about that until the beginning of Lent. There's another gap, the whole of February this year, between the promise or potential of Jesus and his final testing prior to his ministry amongst us. We all have to go through stages like that as well if we are to be fully effective in our life's work. May our gaps be bridged as we pray with Ruth Burgess drawing on images of light at Candlemas:
flickering, burning, changing,
alight and warm with the light that is you.
This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2006-01-05