Another #revgalsrally post...
Today, for no particular reason at all, I've been thinking about the Letter to the Hebrews, focusing on chapter 11:1-40,12:2; pondering the nature of faith, wondering about 'heroes' of the faith, and the concept of being surrounded by 'so great a cloud of witnesses'. In amongst a list of numerous male 'heroes' mentioned in chapter 11, three women are mentioned but only one of these for her faith - Rahab. The other two, Sarah and the unnamed daughter of Pharaoh, are merely there because of their part in the faith-stories of Abraham and Moses. Time for naming, I thought, and flagging up other, more personal, heroes of the faith.
As I've been reflecting about those who have influenced my own faith, I realise that there is quite a cloud of sister-witnesses who have encouraged and inspired, challenged and consoled, laughed and wept and spoken and listened and walked alongside me on this peculiar faith journey.
It is to this great cloud of sisters and witnesses to the faith that I pay tribute, and to whom I'm profoundly grateful... and so today, let me add Sheryl.
Sheryl was the youth pastor of the parish I daundered along to due to Rosemary.
Both listening to a searching 18 year old.
Both treating me seriously...as ...an adult.
Both very generous.
And what incredible generosity of spirit Sheryl had: she gave me the gift of her time.
Shared books with me,
walked me through this wild collection of books called the Bible,
taught me that you neither need lose your brains or your sense of humour to be Christian,
gave me opportunities to test myself and develop skills and gifts along the way.
Standing up in church and doing bits and pieces in worship...okay.
Reading, playing music, teaching Sunday School...seriously?
It was odd to be teaching P7's...but, really, they taught me -
'so, this Noah guy...all these animals in a boat? No way?
Well, that's cool.'
They'd nod wisely and continue the lesson.
Sheryl, I suspect, was also nodding wisely as she watched and listened.
At the end of a year of talking, coffee drinking, doing many mad things in the church,
we sat in the park by the beach after the Sunday School picnic.
She offered a challenge:
'Nobody's going to beat you over the head with a bible to make you
become a Christian, you know. We've talked for over a year, you've read,
you've thought, and in the end, it comes down to one simple thing:
you make a decision.
Either you become a Christian or you don't.
What are you going to do? Nobody gets argued into the kingdom of heaven...'
It seemed perfectly reasonable.
And slightly insane.
Diary entry ran along these lines:
5 December, 1982:
S and I were talking again. Told me 'make your mind up one way or the other'.
So, I did: today I became a Christian - basically told God
'okay, if you exist, then let's do this thing.' No angels sang. But that's okay.
For a couple of years, until she moved on, she, along with Rosemary, was a trusted
mentor and guide. I have so much gratitude for both of them and both gave me
such excellent grounding in the faith.