From our Minister

From our Minister

We have arrived at that point where the manse is feeling emptier, cupboards bare and what remains difficult to sort. One positive result from the house flooding, ceilings coming down and everything being taken into storage was the workmen emptying years of accumulated stuff out of the attic. Regular trips to Oxfam in Sevenoaks, the Hospice of Hope and Sevenoaks refuse centre has denuded us of much we once thought useful.

For me, a problem as I strip books from the shelves in my office, is, what do I keep and what do I let go? I used to write the date I purchased a book alongside my name on the inside of the cover; some were purchased in 1982, read once and never opened again: why am I so reluctant to send it to the charity shop? (1982 was the year I entered college)

Some have responded radically to the accumulation of stuff. Everything they possessed was placed in boxes which were stored around the home. Anything which hadn’t been taken out of a box and used in a 12-month period was got rid of. When they said everything, they meant absolutely everything; I’m going into shock just thinking about it! I’m definitely getting rid of the book in which I read that.

Why it is so difficult to part with some possessions is puzzling. We have items from the children’s childhoods which have some sentimental value and from our own parents and past but what about everything else? If I examine my own motivations and reasoning’s Linus and his security blanket from the Peanuts cartoons springs to mind. There is something comforting about the familiarity of shelves of books and possessions; they might not all have a use today but they are a bit like old friends sharing memories.

Now, on reflection, this is for a church newsletter so I suppose I had better think of something religious to put in it.

You won’t believe this but it is absolutely true. The post arrived as I was writing that last sentence and I have received a letter from a friend of forty years who is moving and has been getting rid of stuff. He writes: ‘The decision about what to keep and what to get rid of is a difficult one. I have sent quite a bit of stuff out from here and you can bet the moment it has gone that is the very thing I want or need.’ Is this some kind of guidance, don’t get rid of anything? Amazing coincidence!

I have taken several boxes of books to the Oxfam in Sevenoaks and whilst the shelves are empty, I don’t have any regrets. More will be going. I have decided the way to travel is to go lightly and let God. Possessions when they accumulate are an anchor which I don’t need and don’t want. The Bible has a lot to say on this subject but I’ll quote just one, Jesus said:

“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of one’s possessions.” Luke 12:15

I think I’ll take that to heart.

John