• Rossendale Circuit

From The Garden Bench - Missing

Words by David Hollows

During this period of different days, what are you missing?

Your freedom to wander, to travel to various favourite places, to have quality face time with your family and friends, hugs?

What or who are you missing the most?

My journey to the valley takes me across Owd Betts and I enjoy seeing the many hosts of daffodils and the signs of spring. However, as I am not coming across, the one thing I miss the most at the moment is seeing the lambs, these small white wonders of creation’s miracles of spring. Strange, isn’t it, what we miss?

Photo by Samantha Mackulin

Missing things becomes more regular, I am told, as you become more mature in years. How many times have you been perplexed when you have gone to a drawer or a cupboard knowing that the object you need should be there only to discover that it is not there, it is missing. Calamity.

Missing is a feature of several children’s games such as Hide and Seek or Kim’s game. Jesus explained the importance of ‘missing’ with 3 examples. In Luke chapter 15 verses 3 to 24, Jesus tells us the story of the missing sheep, the missing coin and the missing son. All three missing objects are of equal importance and value to the person involved regardless of the relative value society may attribute to the gradation of value as all three are worth spending time finding or waiting for.

A sharp lesson in life is that we often appreciate more the value of the item or person once they are missing or gone.

But missing does not always have to be a negative experience. For the shepherd and the woman in the examples Jesus gave, this was their experience until the missing object was found. However, in the third story both the missing son and the father had a positive experience of missing; the son when he realised what he had given up and the father on the return of his son, it is the older brother who had the negative experience as he refused to accept the return of his younger brother.

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel via Unsplash

In the Easter story as the various characters play their individual parts, the missing of Jesus during the trial and the time in the tomb leads to a positive experience of missing; the risen Jesus does not condemn the fear, worry, anxiety, grief and failure of those He loves with their typical human characteristics rather He restores them to their relationship with Him. The meeting with Thomas is evidence of this. Thomas is missing when Jesus appears to the disciples the first time but is present at the second appearance when the meeting with Jesus makes a huge difference for Thomas.

But missing is an important issue for God. The missing son returns to his father and the story has a happy ending but God’s heart is broken when a one of His children walks away from their relationship with Him or when people reject and deny Him.

As the ‘found’ children of God how do we encourage the missing members of our faith family to come back to our Father? How do we encourage those of other religions and none to consider their missing status? How do we encourage those who once sat in our churches that they still have their place ready for them?

Do we wait in prayer for them? Do we actively engage and challenge? Do we hand it over to God and leave the person(s) with Him?

There are no easy answers especially when the missing are in our family and friendship circles but we are called to care and love for the missing, near or far away as best we can in the certain understanding that our faithful God never gives up.

The hymn; Just as I am without one plea (Mission Praise 396) may well be a hymn you can use as a prayer for a missing person you know and pray for.

You may also find the following helpful;

God be with you in your reality. Christ be with you in your adversity. Spirit be with you in your perplexity. And may we all be with each other in solidarity. (The Word in the World)

O Lord, seek us, O Lord, find us in thy patient care; By thy love before us, behind us, round us everywhere; Lest the god of this world blind us, lest he speak us fair, lest he forge a chain to bind us, lest he bait a snare. Turn not from us, call to mind us, find, embrace us, bear; Be thy love before, behind us, round us everywhere - Christina Rossetti

During this period of different days we are asking volunteers to complete a survey of how the pandemic has affected people in their daily lives and faith. If you would like to participate in this survey, please contact me for a copy of the questionnaire.

Thank you, David Hollows; text to; 07452984899 or email; david.hollows@gmail.com

Photo by Venkat Sudheer Reddy via Unsplash

Signing off; your local Lay-worker, David Hollows

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