Thursday, 16 March 2017

Journal: And breathe!

Amazing day, both up and at 'em before the streets were fully aired today with one of us heading for Brum and the other off to Stafford as we were engaged in pastoral and evangelism stuff. I had the Stafford ticket and so found myself in the diocesan Evanagelism and Outreach Team meeting where we discussed so many cool things it made my head spin and my heart pump little faster.

People often quote what they think is a Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times," but it seems that this is actually a Western creation. The same is true of the supposedly African saying, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” The latter popped up in connection with the refugee crisis in Sudan and can be found in a number of places relating to it and appears by many to have been assimilated into their nation's wisdom.

Both sayings are valid in their own right; each conveys something of value even though their source is not that billed. The problem with Christianity is that when it comes to the corruption and/or misquoted words of Jesus there are so many that have been taken up and assimilated into Church culture by well meaning folk.

I recently heard someone offer that great saying of Jesus, "God helps those who help themselves!" But of course this pickpocket's charter of a saying has no biblical source to give it warrant and is in a par with  friend's "You'll be stronger if you get over this by yourself!".

Seems to me that the Church is slowly rewriting the words of Jesus (who is possibly the most misquoted person ever) and whilst some might do it consciously, the majority are doing it out of ignorance and it is merely an attempt to paraphrase a passage or give the gist of something in the Bible. But it's damaging and needs to be addressed. This is a call on those of us who teach to do so with integrity.

That said, the way for the Church to be what it is meant to be is for us to set off together in the direction that leads to the Son. Too often we spend so much time in the planning that we never get round to setting off and actually doing it. Too often we wait for everyone to be ready before we set off and so are found dead at the meeting point having never left! For the things that need to be done quickly, where speed is of the essence, we need to get out and do it with but a few but for the important things, such as preaching the Gospel, we need to go together: think I've the 2017 church direction sorted :-)

Ministry is full of contrasts and yesterday was no different for later in the day I swung from a funeral in a graveyard to overhauling a church hall boiler in the space of perhaps an hour and then straight into a music practice which, almost seamlessly, went into a bishops certificate course. Variety is the spice of life (another thing Jesus never said) and I, for one, am thankful for it.

Every now and then, people challenge me to consider where I should be and the role I should be doing. As an 'almost average' cleric in the CofE I can guarantee a life of living below the radar and doing the stuff and being left in peace to do what I believe I'm called to be, I usually shrug off suggestions of bigger, better and different. That said I realise that I am called to listen and respond to God's voice and perhaps have let the background noise drown Him out. So during Lent I've decided to listen to see what I should (and shouldn't) be doing along with the questions Kipling's working men provide.

Now that could lead to interesting times indeed.

Lord, here I am - send me: A response I have made many times and reiterate today.
I know you have eternity settled for me, help with the day ahead!
Give me my daily bread.
Forgive my many sins.
Help me to forgive those who sin in my direction.
Help me not to become sin and to out you to the test.
Bless those I encounter and give me ears that hear and lips that speak Your words of life.

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