One of those days which promised so much on the diary and delivered something completely different when the doorbell rang!
Expected travel and ended up staying at home - a day of encounter nonetheless but it was varied and yet somehow frustrating. Feeling myself to be totally at the hands of other people's folly, forgetfulness and general shortcomings and yet in the dock; the missed targets of others lying at my feet!
There are often two tensions in life. The first is caused by the words of Jesus which call us to treat others as we would have them treat us. The second come from the lips of St Thumper of Bambi in that, "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all!" I try to express myself honestly and to .make my yes be yes and my no be no' - Not always a popular move. Try the other tack and say nothing and this is taken as assent, which I don't want to give. I'm happy, at times, to say that I'm not sure but will let it go it life cannot be lived by abstentions; it requires courage, honesty and decision!
So I stand by and see things split so people get to do their own thing - it's not mine and has little to do with me and the proletariat cheer in the streets because they're doing stuff. The rulers of the kingdoms are happy because stuff is getting done. But shouldn't we all be doing it in one name and as one people?
Discipleship calls us to make our way through this world making Jesus, the Christ, known and we do it as family (that is Church). All I have ever sought in Church is unity and dialogue and working for each other to do the stuff and yet my experience has been isolated endeavour with division always a hand's breadth away. I love it when I can celebrate the triumph of others and relish the opportunity to engage with and support what others are doing. But I experience that so rarely - is this my misfortune or am I just getting what so many others are getting?
Church is about people, and I love people. It's about Jesus, and I love Jesus. But it seems we are too busy; wound up in our plans and structures and outcomes and demands to get more in the plate and more bums on the pews.
Is this strangling the Church?
Shouldn't we be a party rather than that which we are making Church?
Where are the people who are passionate and on fire?
Are they missing because we, the clergy, are not setting them alight with a zeal for the Lord?
Have we made Jesus everything He isn't and find ourselves looking for commitment where joy and zeal should be?
Have we stopped looking to see new creations in Christ and born again being something exciting and life-giving?
All these questions to be answered and the fear that the problem might be me - am I doing too much, or too little, or doing it in the the wrong place, or doing the wrong thing? Colleagues tell me to do less, thinking I work hard (am driven) because of some desire to prove myself, and yet the reality is that the tide is rising and the time to get people to the safety of the high ground is short. I think of the words that speak of those in Noah's time partying and getting married and having a good time just a few ticks away from the flood and see us not about to be in the same boat. I look at the cross and the salvation that is at hand and, seeing my life changed, want that for others.
That's the role I've taken. That's the role I was given. All I have is Jesus, in and out of season. I'm a bond slave, chosen to have my ear pierced and to be the property of my master even though I am a free man, and in this become the freest man of all.
I write this journal here so others may dialogue with me should they wish. I do it to,be as privately honest and I am publicly assumed to be. This is not about posturing or looking good, for I fear for many I rarely do - and yet isn't this the 'fool for Christ' bit?
I visit people in their homes, and in the care homes, and communicate them and communicate with them. I cry at their losses (where no one sees lest I usurp their grief) and I celebrate their joys. The richness of this wonderful ministerial life I live.
My over-zealousness, my oft misunderstood attempts at honesty and the hope for dialogue which is so often dashed to the ground, expectations unexpectedly dismissed yet again. Where I find like minds and passionate defence in unapologetic ways I rejoice for we are not out to build our piddling kingdoms but one triumphant Kingdom with the Christ on the throne.
Lord, may I have done that in some small way today. May the things in me that distract become less and the things in me that look and smell like Jesus to the world be made greater.
I am left with the words of Wynne Lewis, amazingly used and confusingly gifted - I'm sure he should shave sold used cars: "Victor, you often look like the world to the righteous people in Church and yet you look and smell like Jesus to the world outside our doors. Never let that gift slip from your hands!"
If that is mine and Christ is with (and within) me, who or what can stand against me and the Gospel of Christ? I love my life; my Lord, my family, my friends and those who I call brothers and sisters. Help me to serve them as Christ came to serve us.