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A wetsuit changed my life!

Posted by Jane Butler on 13 Jun 2022

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This might sound like a headline in a tabloid, but I can honestly say that my recent investment in a second-hand full-length wetsuit, has completely transformed my British beach experience. I’ve spent years hovering on the shoreline, longing to jump into the sparkling surf but always concerned about the chill of spring sea temperatures. I have always regretted my internal limits on my aquatic adventures, choosing to sea bathe only in the summer months. However, my extra layer of neoprene skin allowed me to fully immerse in the Atlantic Ocean in May and enjoy bodyboarding alongside my teenagers. It was exhilarating! Why didn’t I do this years ago? Why had I stubbornly carried on in the ways of my own childhood when clearly equipment had moved on and so many others were out enjoying the surf throughout the year?

It made me ponder, what in our Messy ministries do we soldier on with, when in fact the landscape has changed, particularly as we emerge from the pandemic years? What’s the one thing you could change that will transform your ministry?

At the 2022 Messy Church Conference, our keynote speaker Dr Paula Gooder encouraged us that we can make a difference by doing the one thing we can do, rather than getting overwhelmed by all the things we can’t do. Illustrated by the gory Old Testament story in 2 Samuel 21:1–14, we heard how Rizpah, a woman of no power or agency, did the one thing she could, to bring honour to her unburied slain sons of Saul. Caught up in a cycle of violence, retaliation and retribution, Rizpah’s remarkable six-month vigil to sit by the bodies of her brutally murdered sons, preventing them from further desecration, finally attracts King David’s attention. He realises he’s done the wrong thing and restores honour to the family by giving a proper burial for the seven sons and grandsons of Saul, alongside Saul and Jonathan in the family tomb. The cycle of violence is broken through Rizpah doing the one thing she could do in a difficult situation, resulting in an end to the long famine in the land.

I wonder what impossible situations we currently face? If you were to do just what you can in your context, what would that be?

As Paula reminded us, in this Old Testament passage, King David remembers to ask God why there is a famine in the land but fails to pray to God about the solution! Instead, he tries to solve the problem himself but ends up making it worse. As we consider what we can do in our situations, let’s remember to spend as much time praying about the solution as we do telling God about the problem, inviting the Holy Spirit to be our guide. Listen carefully, as you never know, perhaps the answer might come in the form of a wetsuit as you launch a Messy Church Goes Wild on a beach!

Aike Kennett-Brown

BRF Messy Church ministry lead