Faith at Work LXVIII

March 2010

The community choir that I belong to, Voices in Harmony, featured on Radio Shropshire on a Sunday evening in January. Genevieve Tudor came and recorded us in practice and asked our leader why we sang. Jane was caught off guard for a moment but she replied: “for the joy of singing … there’s something about singing together that builds community – the Georgians have a saying: ‘I can’t sing with someone unless they’re my friend.” It’s not difficult to sing; anyone can join in and be uplifted by the experience, but one of the crucial things about singing together is that you have to watch. Listening is also important in order to blend well, but watching is what provides the rhythm and the dynamics, from the conductor and from the others, singing or from dancing.

Watching is also important for gathering techniques in a wide range of activities and becoming proficient at them. I went up to someone on one of the spot-welding machines in the factory the other day and watched as he put together all the parts needed for the chassis member he was constructing. When he had finished the one set, he turned and said to me: “There you are – you could do that now; you’re trained up.” I’d seen all that I needed and with a bit of practice, I’m sure, could keep the machine busy too.

Watching is a good way of recognising the skill and experience of the master. Visiting a place where artwork or skills are being demonstrated is a fascinating experience – the end product appears magically before our very eyes as the craftsman focuses on the task. His, or her, skill may well have been honed over a good many years and we can marvel at the quality of the work as we see it emerge and we can learn. A modern saying when working with apprentices goes like this: “you watch me; you help me; I help you; I watch you.”

During Lent we think about the life of Jesus, and the gathering of his little community of apprentices – I wonder what they sang as they went about. They certainly had a lot to watch out for as they ministered to him during his journeys of teaching and healing – it would be their turn soon enough! But, as they enter His last week on earth together, they are still not quite prepared for the long night before he died – He asks them to pray, and they fall asleep – three times! Sometimes we’re not very well prepared either; we think we know the outcome of our particular process or situation and our watching turns to waiting as we anticipate the conclusion – we think we’re there, but we’re not quite; there’s more watching to do, so let us pray:

O Christ, the Master Carpenter,
who at the last, through wood and nails,
purchased our whole salvation,
wield well your tools in the workshop of your world,
so that we, who come rough hewn to your bench
may here be fashioned to a truer beauty of your hand.
We ask it for your own name's sake.

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 2010-01-30

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