2. First real week of 'sab'. No Sunday Church. Black mark ... it was snowing, we were tired and The Archers was on. Did I miss it (church that is) - the quick answer is no. The real answer is YES - but why? - what did I miss? I am tempted to make a list but I think it would become more about what I 'should' miss (certainly as a paid cleric) rather than as a Christ Follower albeit with a leadership ministry in 2010. Maybe this could be an opportunity for others (including the ordained) to tell me what...... Please do.
This week has been less about snow and more about Haiti. It took me to my colleague Bob Eckhard's web site: tough questions.org and the issue that a course in tough questions might be a better and more spiritually integral way of introducing the Christian Faith to people. If we begin with what people should believe we give them no real ability to relate to the world (including their world) as it really is. (Some reading this may remember the old Y course we did in Woking)
I began this week with the Mission Team at Church House. What a great time it was. To see a group of people who do have a mission and passion to see the Gospel be just that in people's lives where they are, is a real tonic. Weddings, (however that is seen now and will be interpreted in the future), is about people in love and relationship and that is surely the most vital point in life as God is love. To spread that message around more effectively and humanely must surely be right. (Simple soul that I am)
'Haiti cries... and we cry with them.'
Books I have known and loved: This week I found myself reading 'The Gagging of God' (Gavin Reid 1969 !). One of the first books I read as a Christian - borrowed from Christ Church Cheltenham Library and still with the stamp - gasp, shock, horror - stolen goods. O wretched man that I am.... Apart from the obvious cultural context (male, pre - Computer, internet and digital, nostaglic Christendom, etc etc) it still retains its prophetic edge - for me at least.
My Dad was a 'born again atheist' and for him the church, in terms of its cultural expresssion was bad news - I think he had been badly hurt by the internal politics of a local church. However he did keep saying that he had time for Jesus but not for the church. Reid's book tapped into that for me then and still does now - 'the medium is the message', the heart of communication. For many years this became more about the means and methods of being 'contemporary'. I still think a cultural heritage shaped in past generations (including hierarchical structures, 'theology in procession', clapped out buildings, robes, bureacracy etc) of the CofE are a mega hindrance and the attachement to them by many clergy and members is a terminal death sentence. But if we are called to be a church for the nation then that means more about becoming a movement rather than an institution or 'successful church'. Steve Croft and Brain McClaren both address this in their writings. My vision is still to see church communities that could have given my Dad a real choice.
l am reminded of Howard Snyder's comment that church people worry that the world might seek to change the church, Kingdom people work to see the church change the world.
The jury is out as far as I am concerned. The hardest thing is still to get people out of their precious buildings and out into thier wider communities, culures and networks making connections that are open to leading.