I’m hedging my bets that although I know what a hedge is and I know what a hedgehog is, I don’t know what a hedge fund is. Which isn’t a privet joke, I’m just telling you where the leylandii lies.
This week 3 of us in our little church took on a hedge so way out of control it wasn’t so much a hedge round an edge as a wilderness extension. The root network that extended 2 feet across the pavement was 2 inches thick. Years of abandonment saw nature gradually take over and grow 10 foot high.
After walking around it and tutting like everyone else, I came round to the fact I should offer to cut it. Then faced all my insecurities like a) the owner (who I have never met) might be offended at my offer, b) if I did it the neighbours might ridicule me, if especially c) I failed miserably to tackle it effectively. Easier not to bother.
Thankfully God prompted me in a big way. Mrs Vicarage offered my services. So I went round and they were incredibly grateful. A couple of hours of hacking, cutting, trimming, wheelbarrowing, a few cuts and scratches later 3 of us got this
In the grand scheme of things, it’s tiny. It’s not solving Syria. But during those 2 hours I spoke to 5 neighbours I’ve never spoken to before. I had conversations about baptism and “why are you doing that?”. I failed miserably to articulate a decent answer that would please the arch-critic in my head, and nobody fell at my knees asking to be saved.
But by facing some of my fears of ridicule (nobody did call me a self-righteous go-gooder, but there genuinely were twitchy curtains), I think we did a good thing for the kingdom. What does that mean? In a community where the church is almost totally absent from people’s lives, they saw us doing something unnecessary for somebody else. It is fine for us to think good things; to give money to good things; it is good to talk about good things in our gatherings. But we must do good things where it matters most – not by posting sentimental cliches on Facebook or retweeting worthy Christian speakers – it’s where we live, through relationships, in our streets.
It’s investing in the hedge fund. Investing by those who loaned us the equipment, those who give me the freedom to cut hedges as part of my ministry, and those who have their time to help. I think those investments are always worth it. Cut the hedges, pick up the dog poo. Because we love our communities. Yes, other people should do it. Of course. But for myriads of reasons they won’t, don’t, or can’t. If we can, then we must try, even if we experience ridicule, or apathy, or obliviousness. We might not be thanked, we might not see people asking how they might be saved… we do it anyway.
This is our hedge fund and it’s all about investments with no guarantee of any returns. And we might be left with millions of someone else’s hedge in our back garden. Can we face that?