People, especially Celts, speak of 'thin places', places where the gap between earth and heaven is palpably less than elsewhere. I'm never sure that this is a geographical thing so much as an inner, spiritual or even dare I say emotional one, but I kind of get what they mean. (If there are thin places there are also dense places - those places of forboding where birds don't sing and death or agony hangs heavy. But that's another story).
Theologians speak of kairos moments, of points in history where God pierces human history in startling and wonderful ways. Again, I'm not always sure this so much a surge in divine activity as a greater human openness to the ever-active work of God.
Whether they are thin places or kairos moments or just a sense of being caught up in 'something significant that is happening' they do happen. Just sometimes there is a sense of being in tune with God in a more significant way - what people sometimes call mountain top moments - not because you feel deliriously happy (though you may) but you sense something more is, hmm, what is the word? Abounding maybe? The only word I have is mystery, mysterion, the wonder that saucer-eyed children express so wonderfully.
Christians get a bit funny about the word 'coincidence' suggesting it means random chance when actually, etymologically and in risk assessment language, it simply means happening at the same time (or for risk assessors within a specified, short time window). God-incidence is a kind of twee Christianised version to make it ok to spot them. But they happen. And this week they've been happening.
On Saturday 18th June 2005 the final service took place in Dibley Baptist Church before we closed it. On Friday 19th June 2009 the final bricks were razed as demolition was completed. Co/God-incidence? Kairos? Thinness? Maybe.
On Saturday 18th June 2005 a journey of ministry in the 'wilderness' of being a church without any walls began. On Saturday 20th June 2009 the call to leave that ministry and go to a new place came. A kairos point? A thin place? God breaking through? I think so.
On Friday 19th June 2009 a task reached completion. On Saturday 20th June 2009 a new one began. How's that for timing?
Is it all too tidy, this near exactness of four years? Or is it God's humour for a woman who loves order and symmetry?
Is this a mountain top moment, a hill head experience, as one friend has wittily pointed out?
After the rising and sleeping, rising and sleeping of meantime ministry these last five and a half years has the plant grown to harvest?
This is an odd post because this is an odd day. A good day. A God day. But odd no less.
At 3p.m. my congregation will told that I have accepted a call to another church, far away. It is the end of a process we have shared because it has been an odd process: Dibley Baptist Church is small and elderly and even with maximum HMF support can no longer afford to employ me. I am almost halfway through a period of notice to terminate the pastorate on financial grounds, and so have sought a new pastorate with the full knowledge of my folk. They have faced their decision with courage and humility: I am proud of them. I am excited about my new call - it is far, far away from Dibley (and if you read closely a clue as to where is in this post!) to a very different groups of disciples on a very different journey (even if it does include another building project!) and will bring new opportunities and new challenges (as well as new readers!)
This post will appear online at 15:05 BST, just after I tell my folk. The folk far, far away will know at 11:00 BST.
Some of you already know some of this, for others it is new news. Some have shared the journey so far, others will share the next stages.
I have no idea if this is a kairos moment or just more chronos into which I'm reading things, no clue if the razing of the chapel rendered nextdoor a thin place or just a dusty one. But I do feel as if something significant, something of God, some mystery is abroad and for now I am content to dwell within it.