Amongst God's greatest gifts are the people who come into our lives, often unannounced, and with no indication that having met them, we would look at the world differently, and they would help us to see further, deeper and to look harder. Amongst the nicest compliments ever paid to me was when someone said "It was a lucky day for us when you walked into our lives." Of course I knew what she meant, and would hope I'm self-aware enough, and appreciative enough of others, to know that whatever enrichment and help I brought, in all such relationships there is mutuality, reciprocity, and the humility to know that all the important relationships we have with others involve exchange and shared cost.
I have been reminded of that comment this past week or two since hearing of the death of the Rev Dr Moyna McGlynn. I met Moyna over 10 years ago, because a mutual friend suggested she would be the right person to teach a new module in our College. Minutes into the conversation with her it was already obvious that our students needed to meet, and hear, and learn from someone who thought like this, cared like this and lived out that care and commitment.
The module was called Community and Church; it was intended to push students doing a degree in theology and pastoral studies to think about the world and the culture and the people around them. Too much theology presupposes fairly static models of church which limits the imagination and vision of those who want to share the radical and subversive good news of Jesus. Moyna was already engaged in her work in Govan, healing the hurts and wounds of two congregations becoming one, with both communities feeling their losses, and wondering how the two could ever become one. Not only that. She was passionate about church not being thought of as the, or even a, dominant voice in conversation with the local community.
Who better to teach students about risk and trust, vulnerability and solidarity, grace as both gift and demand, love as the practical standing alongside as advocate, friend and when need be, shield. The way asylum seekers have been treated, and the grudging and at times obstructive policies that hinder the settlement and recovery of dignity and worth of refugees, became for her issues of theological importance and of moral concern - and that meant outspoken and passionate advocacy. So for several years Moyna taught in the Scottish Baptist College - interactive conversation, unsettling questions and stories, probing and pushing for critical engagement with a Gospel that confronted injustice and made ridiculous demands about love, forgiveness, generosity, welcome and mercy. For Moyna, make no mistake about it, these were barcode identifiers stamped on those serious about following Jesus and building community. Disciples showing such identifiers are the living conduits between the church as the Body of Christ and the community within which God has placed each particular Christian community to be light, salt and the very epitome of the welcome of God.
As one who worked with Moyna during those years, and saw and heard her in class, and later as she welcomed students to Govan to see for themselves what she was about, it was obvious the affection and respect students had for who she was and what she was committed to in her ministry. Since the announcement of her death, several students have written of her warmth and kindness and the way she quietly and persuasively lived the Gospel she preached and embodied in ministry.
It was a lucky day when Moyna walked into our lives in the College; those several years of teaching now have their legacy in ministries deepened and differently formed by their encounter with her. And when I use the word lucky, I do so the way John Wycliffe intended in that early translation of the Bible into English: "And the Lord was with Joseph and he was a luckie fellow." In what is often called our luck and good fortune, we see the mystery that is God's way of working, disguised as the grace which surprises with unexpected blessing. Moyna was such a gift. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.