Today is St. Teilo’s Day. When we went to Llandaff Cathedral, outside Cardiff, Wales, last summer, the docent said we could open the cupboard that was around back, behind the altar, and get a peek at Teilo’s head. The great church planter’s skull was preserved there, as a relic of a life admirably lived. He died sometime after 560, which was not an easy time to live.
I think his story might encourage a few of the people I have been talking to who think their time to live is pretty challenging, too — especially the people who either need to get their head into the game of church planting again, or who feel like the church has their head stuffed in a cupboard and they don’t like it.
We’ve had some dialogue and a meeting about Circle of Hope Broad and Washington, lately, and one of the words that has risen to the surface is that we need some revival and reformation. We need to get back to basics and give our gifts. As a result, some patterns that people have established in relationships and mission are getting disrupted; people are feeling challenged, and things are changing for the better (already!). Some people feel excited; some people don’t feel so good. Especially for the people who have been giving it their all, it feels like a bit of an insult – “I give my gifts and resources already. I can’t do more.”
What I have been saying to a few of the stalwarts, where it fits, is, “The problem is not that you don’t do things, the problem is that you just do your things. You might not be a church planter, but you need to concern yourself about whether the church gets planted. You might not have time to care for the children but your love has to be great enough to care about whether they are cared for. And if you do lead the worship, or care for kids, or lead a cell or do the limited thing you can do, you need to fill it with enough love, and let it be filled with God’s Spirit, so that it can make an impact beyond the borders of your smallness.”
Maybe this is what the famous story of Teilo is about. One day his settlement was attacked and they were robbed of all their stores of fuel. In the cold, Wales winter, that meant they had to immediately go to the woods and cut down more trees. Their work was made easier when a great stag came to help them by delivering the wood with his antlers. Teilo is often pictured riding a stag. Life gets hard. Irritating things must be done. God shows up.
It will be great when you and creation are in such harmony that you can ride stags. Maybe that won’t happen. That’s no big deal. You can be in harmony with God’s own Spirit. The challenges of this day can be met. And even the small things you can do will probably end up magnified, if you allow them to be in the hands of Jesus. Let’s keep our heads in the game — it’s bigger than our incapability.