I wrote this for one of my church newsletters - I think it also applies to the guilt I feel about not always getting round to posting early on this blog!
"It was bound to happen sooner or later. I missed the deadline for my minister’s letter in the village newsletter. I am cross with myself for leaving it so late and feel guilty that it might make people think I don’t care enough to write this month.
The truth of course is that among the many things I had to do to catch up from time away at Minister’s Spring School and then URC Mission Council the letter got left until…too late!
But it has got me thinking about guilt. “We have not done those things which we ought to have done”, we might sometimes pray.
I end every week feeling that there are things I haven’t done, and often find myself praying that God will grant me another week of life to try to get it all finished. In one prayer from Iona we pray “Give us time to amend our lives”.
Yet fortunately, since absolute completion is impossible, it is not all down to us – God is gracious and loving and forgiving and sometimes I feel I hear a divine whisper telling me not to be so hard on myself.
A lovely poem by James Thomson (a Scottish poet, 1700 – 1748) sums this up – I offer it to you if you sometimes get carried away with a sense of guilt:
ONCE in a saintly passion
I cried with desperate grief,
"O Lord, my heart is black with guile,
Of sinners I am chief."
Then stooped my guardian angel
And whispered from behind,
"Vanity, my little friend,
You're nothing of the kind."
Yours, a forgiven child of God,