Reflection for the Week
21st January 2018
My working life before becoming a minister was spent in the Building Services industry (that’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning etc. My mum once said to my old primary school teacher “I’m not sure what our Nigel does but I think he’s some sort of glorified plumber.” I sometimes wonder if that description still applies albeit in different ways as a minister.). my areas of work were always in the commercial sector working on offices, hospitals, schools, police and military establishments together with many other building types including churches. The type of work I did varied from designing, project management and sales. During the 20 or so years that I did that sort of work the industry changed; materials and technology advanced, working practices altered and the relationships and responsibilities within the industry and clients changed.
When I left the industry I was already longing for some of the old days as many of us tend to as we get older and I was already beginning to feel a bit of a dinosaur. PFI’s (Private Finance Initiatives) and outsourcing were even then the new vogue and I was concerned about so many aspects of how responsibility both to and for one another was changing. I also had a deep suspicion the ‘money go round’ was skewing our perceptions of what was really important and the long term problems that would be stored up to revisit us in the future.
The collapse of Carillion is a consequence of all that I was fearful of and everywhere that has been touched has been contaminated as surely as somebody with the flu sneezing into their hand and then shaking someone else’s hand or passing them change in the next instant.
Of course the world is complex and my old fears would have been dismissed back in the day as simplistic because I didn’t understand and wasn’t prepared to change. I didn’t have to deal with that for long, as the Lord called me in a different direction.
Scripture covers all of this with numerous warnings. The tale of Cain and Abel clearly illustrates that we are responsible for one another and accountable to God. The people’s desire to have a king like other nations was something God knew was fraught with problems, too much focus and adoration of one flawed person and the distraction that drew people away from what was really important. Jesus said much about neglect of the least able and love of money. The list goes on and you will have your own examples.
At the heart of this is what we worship and where we place our trust. Power, money, systems of practices, ‘the old days’ and the law are all things that could be what we worship and where we place our trust (and again you can add your own to the list). But it is God whom we are called to worship and in whom we should place our trust. We are accountable to him and are responsible to and for each other as his creatures created in his self image out of love. Companies and systems may fail but at the heart of our problems is ourselves; what is expedient, what we do for ease, what we worship, love and in what we place our trust or turn a blind eye.
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27)
Rev Nigel Rodgers