It's amazing and sad in possibly unequal measure that the world contains some really sad people out there. The sadness is that they have to come and visit their sadness on me the amazing thing is their inability to extract their heads from their behindsides and yet can still talk out of it!
Every now and then I find myself doing something only to find that a Frank Sinatra imitator steps up and sings 'my way' as loudly as possible. Sometimes it's a moan over the fact that they didn't like a hymn or the way someone did, or didn't do, something. I had it once over a street theatre company who did came and made a decent fist of the passion - but they did it amongst the people (that's why it's called 'street' - if you want a show, go to a theatre!) and so some complained that they couldn't see the 'show'! The problem is that things we do and the way that we do them have the potential to overshadow the 'what' we are doing and we can soon follow this by losing the 'why' are we doing it too!
A simple idea to pay our respects to those who have fallen; those who have served (possibly with us); those who continue to serve - can be so very powerful. In fact the size and the manner in which it occurs can be a real bottom lip wobbler (I know, I've been there). A simple gathering of a few people in a place for the same reason - where service and sacrifice are held before them with a certain, grounded, awe and respect - this is the purest stuff of remembrance made real.
A coming together of people to mark something important in the Christian year - simple and honestly open - can there be anything more powerful?
Yet we strive to make things bigger or (put your word here) and before long the whole thing misses the point of the gathering, letting it become secondary as the event becomes the reason to gather, and so in perhaps achieving the success we crave, we find that we have in fact created a remarkable failure! What does it profit someone that they gain the world and in so doing forfeit their soul?
When does something special merely become a rally in a place where special things take place?
When does a service serve the people who attend rather than worship the one for whom respect, reverence and the gathering was intended?
Hard questions indeed.
I work hard to bring before people the focus of the reason we gather. Contained within this it is always Jesus, the Christ, that I seek to bring centre stage as we remember His life, message and sacrifice in our acts of worship: A true place to occupy whether we are doing Church, Remembrance or being a Chaplain. The ONLY place I can occupy as a Christian and a minister of God's grace.
So, if you are one of those who want everything done on your terms, your way, with the entertainers lined up - bringing something that rings your bell and gives you what you want. Here's a gentle recommendation:
Go buy yourself a ticket to the cinema or theatre!
But as for me (and my house) - we will serve the LORD
So from today - if you want a sideshow, some entertainment, something that tickles your fancy - if it ain't god Jesus up front and centre: go find yourself someone with an equity card not a dogcollar :-)
It's good to reflect on things. You find that the things that didn't make you angry make you think and the things (and people) that disappoint can actually encourage you and move you to be a better, more thoughtful, more focussed priest.
Now that's worthy of a 'Thanks be to God' innit?