I found a funny story this week, it goes like this: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine, they lay down to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend. "Watson, look up and tell me what you see." Watson replied, "I see millions and millions of stars." "What does that tell you?" Watson pondered for a minute.
"Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Chronologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all-powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Why, what does it tell you?"
Holmes said, "Watson you idiot, someone has stolen our tent."
Watson and Holmes each saw things very differently, each chose to see what they wanted to see but they actually worked well together. In Roman times, centurions worked in pairs. One would sleep, while the other stood on guard. If caught in a skirmish, they would fight back to back, each covering the other's blind spot. Perhaps this is where the expression "watch your back" comes from.
Sometimes we need someone to help us see more clearly what is in front of us. We have blind spots. These are places in our lives that we cannot see (or choose not to see) that might need to be changed.
Could this be why Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs? Were they to cover each other's blind spots? As we seek God's Kingdom, we need others to help us to see what we don't see and to hear what we don’t hear. Sometimes we are blind or deaf to what is going on right in our midst, and in a spiritual sense, we can be blind/deaf to what God is doing so well for us. Sometimes it is our theology that blinds or deafens us and prevents us, or others from living in a fully human experience. Sometimes it is our personal agenda that gets in the way.
Harriet and I have arrived in these villages that make up the Yealm and Erme Mission Community and we are very happy to be here. The idea is that the six parishes work together, in collaboration. On the 1st of October the six parishes officially became a Mission Community – The Yealm and Erme Mission Community. In normal circumstances I would be working with Rev’d Anne Legge, who is now the rector of the six parishes. As many of you know, she is unfortunately unwell at the moment.
So what is a Mission Community? The Diocese of Exeter identifies a Mission Community as a set of parishes that have agreed to work together as a group. It doesn’t take away the individuality of a parish. What it does do, is to bring the parishes together, so that skills, gifts and resources can be shared. Duplication is reduced. Efficiencies are improved. The idea being that we are stronger together than we would be apart. The Parish remains a parish but with good and strong relationships with its neighbours. Jesus has something to say about neighbours… love them!