How did Jesus prepare for leadership without the “help” of mission statements, or identifying key people, or setting targets? How did Jesus survive a wilderness environment that reduced him, body and soul, to barest essentials, leaving his character and instincts starkly exposed, whipped by the razor-sharp winds of the desert? How did he survive, with no apparent external assistance, to shore him up or sustain him? My dictionary speaks of wilderness as an uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region. Tough training indeed. Even yomping SAS commandos have a bit more moral support around them than was available to Jesus.


It’s Thanksgiving Sunday at St Michael & All Angels’ next week. The (actually only one) occasion in the year when it’s the Vicar’s task to encourage one and all to think and pray about what we might contribute to the work of God’s Church in terms of time, talents and money. And we’re all encouraged to think and to pray precisely because no-one else is equipped to tell us what we can or cannot afford to give or to do. Only we can know. Only we ourselves can square up to exactly what our relationship with God and the gifts he’s given us is. Only we, as individuals, can really know whether we’ve anything in our lives to be thankful for, or not.


What kind of training and help do I need in order to arrive at a good decision about what I may or may not offer back to God? Is there anyone whose example I might follow? Is there man, woman or child who has risen above the grubby business of self-interest and temptation; anyone I can look up to, be inspired by, want to emulate? Where could I engage such a person in conversation? Where could I learn what inspired and motivated him or her? How can I learn not to feel pain when I give something away, but rather to revel in the laughter and joy of God’s creation itself? How do I learn to be a cheerful giver? Who am I? What am I called to be and do? And how?


I learn how to give when I’ve been to a place, in person or in spirit, where I’ve been brought face to face with reality; where I’ve been shown who and what I am; where I’ve come to know without shadow of a doubt that I am loved by my Creator, who is ALMIGHTY GOD, forever and ever, and that “I shall lack nothing”. I learn how to give when I’m even slightly more interested in even occasional quiet spaces alone with God than I am in my social life or in what I possess, or might some day possess. I learn how to give, and I learn how to love, and I learn how to “live life in all its fullness” on the very day, and in the very hour, and in the very moment, when I allow all of MY character and all of my instincts to be starkly exposed … to the inexpressible beauty, and the unimaginable generosity, and the surpassing glory and assurance, of GOD — who loves me, FOREVER.