Sunday, 10 April 2011

On Being a Small Cog in a Big Wheel: Spring CoGS 2011

My "By the Way" column in The Medicine Hat News yesterday:

I've just been to Mississauga to work on the national executive committee of my denomination; the Anglican Church of Canada. The committee is called the Council of General Synod; CoGS for short. We Anglicans love our acronyms. This one really speaks to me, however. I feel like a very small cog in a very big wheel; a wheel which turns slowly for the most part; too slowly on some days and a bit too quickly on others. As the small cog that I am, I have very little influence on the direction in which the wheel is going. All I can do is dig in as best I can, or try to resist to slow the wheel down, when the little cog I am meshes briefly into its slot on the wheel CoGS is driving in the ecclesiastical gearbox which makes the Anglican Church of Canada go.

In many ways, that's the Christian life. Most of us are small cogs on the wheels of our churches subject to forces beyond our control. It's not very exciting most of the time. It is, however, important. Paul says so in his first letter to Corinth. The are many parts, or cogs, but one body, or wheel. Around and around we go. Each cog has a role to play; a slot with which to mesh so we can provide our little bit of energy to keep the wheels turning so the church carries out its task; God gets worshipped and Jesus gets to where the people who need him are.

The trick is to be content with our lot and the slot God has made for us. I am reminded of a saying from the theatre world: "There are no such things as small parts, there are only small players." Just so in the church. There are no small slots, there are only small, that is, prideful, dissatisfied and envious, cogs.

Serving on CoGS reminds me of my place. Like most of us, I'm a small cog on a wheel that God designed and made for a purpose. There are a few big wheels out there. They may be able to move with panache and quickly, but the humbler gearboxes full of many wheels and lots of little cogs do a better job of steep, rough terrain and will go further in the end.