— A Message of Greeting —
As I greet a ‘Community of Grace’ I recall the angel of the Lord meeting with Mary in Luke 1:28 addressing her as the “One Gifted With Grace.”
Her Call was at an unexpected time but with a Divine Plan and Purpose. And once the blueprint was presented to her, she submits herself to the will and guidance of the Lord saying- Behold the handmaid of the Lord, may it happen to me as is willed by and pleasing to God.
The call to Freiburg I am sure was God at work in our lives as it would also be in the lives of the people of God who worship in the Anglican Chaplaincy of Freiburg.
When the process to find a Chaplain for Freiburg was rolled on and the decision made, the world was reeling under a Pandemic and little did we realise that the extended lock downs and travel banns would affect our plans as it ultimately did and delay the VISA processes and thus the travel to Freiburg, the licencing, and the commencing of ministry.
However, the period from December 2020 when we were told of the selection, till now, has been a time of resilient waiting in Grace for God’s kairotic timing. Our passports were submitted in March hoping for an April 1, 2021 start but lo and behold the “amber and the red” stories kept our passports in the Consulate until they are able to issue the visas. Recently, there have been many other significant partners who are engaged with trying to speed up the process. We are, of course, aware that delays with regard to issue of visas and work permits in the current context of a pandemic are happening across the world generally.
While we continued the wait the Lord enabled us to creatively engage in the mitigation of the pain of the people whose lives were impacted by the Pandemic. I was given responsibility of the ministry among vulnerable children and broken lives. Being the Church, present, listening and engaging was a challenging task, especially when physical meetings were also restricted.
As Chair of the Church Mission Society Asia Region, I also joined the mission networks across the world, in redefining mission in a context of pain and agony around. Providing pyscho-spiritual support to people in mission was a time of intense listening and great learning and I have also kept in touch with the Evangelische Mission in Solidarität in Stuttgart.
I continued to be in charge of the Holy Trinity CSI Congregation in the city of Trivandrum seeking new ways of pastoral ministry in an ecclesial context turning more and more digital. Addressing digital exclusion, digital fatigue and digital impersonalising and yet connecting to the pastoral needs of the people, crying with them in their pain and making the gospel fully known and relevant at such a time was a call that required tremendous grace.
Bishop David Hamid, Archdeacon Leslie Nathaniel and Church Warden Iris along with Tini kept in constant touch with us, and we waited and waited and waited.
Leslie then suggested that even waiting can be creatively transformed by grace. It was thus that the idea of the Permission to Officiate as Priest came up so that I can digitally take on some of the pastoral roles, start engaging with the congregation, understanding and responding to their needs and actively be a listener. Perhaps an occasional opportunity to hear or read, preach, do a few bible studies online could be thought of to start with.
While Grace gives us strength for the waiting and meaning for the process it also gives us Hope that the opportune timing of God would soon come, and we sincerely hope and pray with confidence that we would be able to come physically and join the community of Grace soon.
The Chaplaincy I am sure will continue to be an inviting and welcoming space and we would just want our presence to be a presence of grace, hope and comfort to the people of God who belong here and to all those around us ecumenically, locally and globally.
We continue the wait but in the season of creation that we are in, we hope the seed would sprout beginning our co-sojourning soon and our time in Freiburg would be a time of Grace at work adding to beauty of the garden of God’s wondrous creation.
With every good wish, prayers and blessings
With Molly Catherine my wife, Dorothy and Giji our daughters who are also excited about being with you in God’s appropriate time.