Dear Friends – June

I hope you are enjoying the slightly warmer weather.

This time of year takes me back to the days of revising for school exams: trying to convince my parents that I could revise just as easily lying in the sun as sitting at a desk, and then giving the game away after a few minutes by having both my books and my eyes firmly closed.

Those exams are a little hazy to me now, but I do remember the exams at Westminster College. We had been advised, not long after we arrived, to practise writing longhand. Although our course work and essays were done on computers, the 2-hour exam papers had to be hand-written; most of us hadn’t written anything longer than a shopping list for years, and our teachers didn’t want us to lose marks by getting wrist cramps at inopportune moments. I picture the exam room, silent but for the sound of pen on paper, the soft tread of the invigilator up and down the rows, and the occasional weary sigh. Anyone who finished early was free to leave the room, but few of us dared, lest we should have some blinding flash of inspiration when it was too late to go back.

Tomorrow, I am taking part in another kind of exam, though this time I’m not being assessed. Three of the people attending Kaye’s Rhythmics classes have been doing additional work in order to gain their Foundation Award. The qualifying exam includes a movement piece devised by the three; the rest of the class who are not going for the Award, including me, are joining in as extra bodies to give more scope for ideas. One the one hand, I’m glad I don’t have to impress the examiners. On the other hand, I’m mindful that if I go wrong, I could disrupt the whole piece and mess things up for people whom I like and respect. Fortunately, we have Kaye’s sound teaching and encouragement which should make sure that doesn’t happen.

It is just as well that there are no exams for being a Christian. Jesus made friends with all sorts of people, called local working men to be his disciples, stood up for those who were judged by society, and welcomed all into the kingdom of God. Those who responded to his invitation were drawn deeper into discipleship, facing various challenges along the way; when they failed the challenges, Jesus offered forgiveness and the chance to make a fresh start. ‘Anyone who comes to me’, Jesus says, ‘I will never turn away’.

My prayers are with all who are taking exams this year, and those who are waiting for results. I’d like to share one more thing from Westminster College, from the day we were expecting our results. ‘Whatever the outcome of these exams’, we were told, ‘every single one of you is loved by God and precious in his sight’.

Have a blessed summer,