Thought for the Month (February 2008)

Dear Friends,

Sundays are important for us as Christians a day of rest, a day to celebrate the day on which Jesus rose from the dead, the day on which the Holy Spirit came upon the infant Church. It is a day on which we gather in God's house to worship together as God's people, a day of strengthening our sense of belonging to God and one another.

But what of the rest of the week, the Monday to Saturdays, the places we go to, the things we do, most of us, during part of our life? For most of us, we need employment to provide for the essential things in life. This is recognised and blessed by God inasmuch as Jesus Himself, like us, earned His daily bread by His labour in the carpenter's shop.

Rodney Green, who was the Chief Executive of Leicester City Council, wrote a book called "90,000 hours, or Managing the World of Work." (90,000 hours being about 40-50 hours per week for 40-50 years.)

In his book, Green explores how and what should mark the Christian out in his or her workplace. It's an interesting book which struggles to bring Kingdom values to the world of work. However, he recognises this is not always easy, for the God of Mammon looms large in the workplace.

Since leaving full-time employment as a power engineer, I have, amongst other things, become involved in the work of our local Industrial Mission, although ours in Kent is now called Kent Workplace Mission.

It brings together all the mainstream denominations in Kent, supporting both our staff chaplains and many part-time ones who visit offices, shops, factories and other places of employment across the county.

In the Mission at the moment we are undergoing what is, I believe, called 're-branding', trying to make the work of the mission more meaningful and relevant to those in employment, particularly those who never see the inside of a church.

Reading the Gospels, one is constantly reminded that the ministry of our Lord Jesus was focused on where people were. He spent more time talking in the market place or by the sea shore than in the Temple.

Some of you by now may well be saying "All very interesting, Richard, but Ive retired from work now. What's all this got to do with me?" Well, we at Kent Workplace Mission are always looking for more chaplains to visit workplaces, so give it prayerful thought, please; contact me for more details. And pray for those whose work brings them into daily contact with us postmen, shopkeepers, bus drivers, care workers. Get to know them - by name, if possible - and pray that their work may not be a drudge but a joy. For as Paul the tentmaker said, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men." (Colossians 3:23)

God Bless,

Pastor Richard C. Blackwell

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church