“God Will See Us Home” (Part 2) – “The Bigger Picture” by Tracey Byrne
This week marks the fifth anniversary of the death of Jim Cotter, a dear friend and LGCM’s first General Secretary.
As a gay man, deeply committed to truth-telling, Jim knew all about exile, about being cast to the edges, but he resolutely refused to become a victim. From that place he lived with such searing authenticity and tenderness, through the AIDS epidemic, from a place of dark depression, of illness and healing. Around 2000 he moved to Wales, near an ancient pilgrim route high in the hills above Harlech, where he welcomed strangers, seekers, poets, pilgrims and friends – few of them from the central powerful places of the church. He exercised a profound and prophetic ministry, incognito.
Towards the end of his life, Jim was offered and accepted the post of priest at Aberdaeron, where the poet R S Thomas had once served. From his place of abundant exile Jim had been called to a new, and all too short, phase of his pilgrimage. As far west as it’s possible to go on land, Jim exercised an extraordinary and unexpected ministry, as gently subversive as ever. “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.”
Sometimes, caught up in the machinations of the institution, we can forget the bigger picture.
The God of surprises is waiting, incognito, to draw us on, to welcome us, to heal us, to give to us all those things we never dared dream of, even from our place of exile and despair. And that God of surprises has plans for us too.
Restore the years, O God, that we have lost,
that the locusts have eaten.
Give to us the future we thought we should never see.
Even when we feel exiled,
locked in, despairing,
move secretly within us and among us
and without our realizing it
keep us moving on our journey to your city. Amen.
1942 – 16 April 2014
Tomorrow – the Revd Jenny Clark, “Confidence in Christ”, Phil 1: 6