Friday, 15 May 2015

What's being a 'Vicar' really like? (part the first)

This question, posed by someone this week, really put me on the spot. Not because of the base question but because the person asking included the word 'really'. To make matters worse they went on to say, 'I know you do Sunday's but there's more than just that and I know you do loads of other stuff, but what is being a Vicar really like? What's the joy and where's the pain?'

The 'really' word is a real pain because it seeks to cut through the smiling clerical image and asks to see into a world that sometimes is less that one would hope, being Church, it would be. It is an invitation to tell it as it is but generally, like the confrontation in the courtroom it makes people pull up short because what we have is the reality that for most is that 'you can't handle the truth'!

To continue in the footsteps of the film: 
We live in a world with sin all around us. Sin that wounds, sin that damages, sin that destroys. 

We live in a world where the moral compass of those around us is so damaged that we see evil acts and wrong thinking portrayed as right.

We live in a world where those who would claim to be Church and claim to follow Jesus, the Christ, act as if they had never heard of Him and deny Him by their words, deeds and actions (and inactions too)!

We sin (that means miss the mark) in many of the things that we have done, and are doing, and in those things we have left undone and truly (as our liturgy says) there is no health in us.

But what makes matters worse is the fact that we focus a little closer in on the 'we' - When we deconstruct the situation before us, all too often it becomes clear that the problem is all down to 'YOU'; and this is where the question 'what is it really like?' begins to be answered and for believer and non-believer alike, for those near and far off, the perceived reality is generally the same for all around me:

'We' very quickly becomes 'you' - or better still 'them' rather than 'us' - when it should be for all of us (and especially including me) a resounding 'I'. 

But that isn't because 'I' am at the centre of everything - that's where God should be found - but because 'I' am the means by which the love of God, sacrificial acts and changed thinking should be found too!

When a situation occurs, people will ring me and tell me how 'someone' needs to do 'something' about a situation - and of course that 'someone' is generally me

It is me because that's apparently what I am there for - to be the policeman and remedy for the judgment someone else has passed - be assured, that's what many think Vicars are there for.

When a situation occurs, some people will turn a blind eye or seek to excuse it or to rationalise whatever is going on and will, by their inaction, do nothing to rock the boat or sour a relationship. This is the time when 'I' (as a Vicar) have to act and make myself unpopular - I don't have a choice in the matter for permitting (or ignoring) wrong is to be complicit and, as the Bible tells us, if I become complicit then I become as guilty as the wrongdoers I have failed to warn and offer correction to! 

For those already engaged in wrong, I have a clear mandate to address the sin and to 'restore the sinners' (gently) - and that's not popular either!

The world, secular or sacred, is made up of individuals who have, with every step, the challenge of acting rightly or wrongly. There is really no middle ground - there are few 'grey ' areas - maintaining the status quo is really acting to be inactive rather than making a stand which those around you might consider to be unpopular even though it might be right! 

The problem is that we seem to have confused being right with being popular and because of this we (the Church, society, We, you, us, I) accept a consensus opinion even when the many are wrong in what they think or believe or do.

Always keep the words of William Penn somewhere close to hand:

Right is right - even if everyone is against it!
Wrong is wrong - even if everyone if for !

So this is the backdrop to that which will be cropping up over the next few days - it will be the truth with those who need to be anonymous rendered such (and that means everyone) and only I will be in the frame (so be as kind as you can people!).

Let's rock!

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