Saturday, April 30, 2016

What I learned about Church from going to see Rocky Horror Show Live!

As we walked towards the venue you could tell who was going the same way because they were dressed appropriately.  As you caught the eye of total strangers, you looked each other up and down and smiled in recognition.  You never met before but you already had something in common, you were already part of the family. You took your seat and the room buzzed in anticipation. 

The music started and the first song was sung.  You knew all the words and sang along with gusto, as did your neighbours.  As you sang and swayed you felt embraced by the warmth of a group of people coming together around something they love. 

Words were spoken and you joined in, shouting back, together making an event that belongs not just to the people in that room, but to similar people in similar rooms all around the world.  You can go anywhere in the world and find an event like this, with people like this, and you can join in and feel welcomed and included.

The story unfolded, a story so familiar that there were no surprises – in fact so familiar that we all know most of the words off by heart – that’s what unifies us, brings us together.  And the familiarity of the story doesn’t make it stale – the magic is in retelling it to one another and knowing that it means something to all of us. 

We learn and relearn that it’s important to love one another; to be honest about who we are; that no matter who or what we are, there is a guiding star.

The event reached its high point, we stood together, and as the music prompted us we moved as one people, again drawn together by something we know well and love to do.  As our eyes met we knew that we were sharing something special.  As we did this, we remembered all the other times we did it, the people we did it with, the things it has meant at different times in our lives.   And we took a jump to the left…

Sunday, April 24, 2016

An Important Difference

I spent some time this week pondering the difference between tolerance and affirmation. It’s something I didn’t realize I had been affected by, but as I reflected on some conversations I realized that my experience as a woman in ministry made the difference very real.

When you tolerate someone you don’t really like what they are or do, but you put up with it. It may be that you would prefer that your pastor was a man but your church voted for a woman so you’ll have to put up with it. It’s not a very nice feeling – it’s very conditional, and not very generous.

When you affirm someone, you may also not agree with what they are or do, but you make a decision to affirm them as they are. You decide that you will acknowledge their humanity and affirm that that humanity makes them valuable. As a Christian this means that, at rock bottom, I recognize that they, like me, are made in the image of God, and that he loved them so much that he gave his only son, so that they would not die, but have eternal life. I also believe that God might also be at work in and around their lives, even if they wouldn’t call themselves Christians, doing things that are far beyond my meagre understanding.

So how does this work out in real life? I think it’s the difference between thinking of people as categories; migrant, refugee, homeless, drug addict, woman in ministry, and thinking of them as individual people; Lukas, Fatima, Jim, Maggie, Sarah! And saying “You are valuable, precious, gifted, worthwhile.” This is a much nicer feeling.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A New Season

My life has changed a lot recently. After nearly eight years as the Youth and Children’s Pastor at West Bridgford Baptist Church, I am currently on sabbatical, and then at the end of June I will be unemployed.

This sabbatical time is giving me chance to rest, to think, to spend time with God, to reflect on the last few years and to seek God’s will for the next few.

The different pace of life is giving me chance to do some of the things I love: some more reading, some socializing, some travel and out of all that, some writing. Some of the fruits of that might appear here.