One of the special times I have as Bishop is sharing with my team at the Diocesan Office in our regular staff prayers.
We take turns in leading and during my turn in July I recalled finding myself with my sisters looking through my mother’s handbag following her death. It was an immensely intimate experience which produced its share of tears and treasures.
In Mum’s handbag, positioned between the pages of her small New Testament was a poem with a small wooden cross glued to it: somewhat tattered, well fingered and obviously treasured. The words of ‘The Cross in My Pocket’ are quite remarkable and my sisters insisted that I have it. I treasure it.
I showed this treasure to the staff team and we shared about the physical prompts we use to remind us that we are a Christian, no matter where we may be. I wonder if you have some form of physical identification that may be hidden away in your handbag or jacket pocket that identifies you with Christ and of the price He paid for us.
One of our team, Ray, recalled the theme of my Prayer Retreat ‘Les Miserables: REFLECTION and LEARNING and LIVING’ and my time sharing some of this with the Howrah Parish. Ray recalled the paroled convict, Jean Valjean, and how he not only received the grace of God in abundance but how, the very next day, he reverted to his violent human ways. Valjean wept in remorse and throughout his life he carried the bishop’s candlesticks with him to remind him that he belonged to God.
During the team’s discussion, Leonie disappeared and reappeared with her own tiny cross-stitched ‘Cross In My Pocket’ which had been given to her as a gift from a special lady in her parish. It was a cross that she could pass on to someone as a prompt in their pocket reminding them of Christ’s love in a time of need.
For Annette it was the serendipity of that moment – my story, Leonie’s cross, and Ray’s comments – which in itself was an ‘ordinary’ moment and realising that God had a hand in it. We had lived one of those ‘God-incidences’!
Life continually reminds us, and Satan accuses us, of our own sinful nature and so we seem to require ‘reminders’ of God’s grace given to us in Christ.
I enjoy reflecting on these reminders or prompts as we go about our daily life. They encourage my discipleship in a world that appears hesitant, if not actively resistant, to people openly wearing, or carrying, Christian forms of identification, demonstrating our blessings and striving to serve Him better in all that we do and say.
What do you use to remind yourself daily of Christ’s presence in your life? My Mum had a Cross in her pocket.
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