Fear is in the air…

… and the magazine letter is late. (as usual)

Fear is in the air, you can smell it!
You can see it as well, the shop assistants giving out adverts in the street for their latest offers, the new signs going up pointing to various retail establishments, information about flu precautions.
We used to be afraid of Nuclear Weapons, Global Warming and Sea level rises, then we were afraid our energy supplies would run out.  After that came the fear of financial ruin at the hands of the global recession, now of course it is the turn of swine flu.  Every so often nature gives us something to think about, to re-asses our place in the world, to challenge our assumption that we are the dominant beings, in control, subject to nothing.
Imagine an abandoned motorway…
The cars have long since gone from this place.
A barren waste monument to the automobile that once was king.
A healthy breeze drifts along its length carrying with it dust, grime and dirt mere ghosts of the heavy traffic that once flowed along this artery.
The old tired road stretches out like a panoramic picture as far as the next bridge, stoops under, and is gone.
The surface is rough in places, smooth in others where wheels once turned.
A dead, decaying place you might think.
Here and there, among the un-seeing cats-eyes, a small mound of tarmac is raised up, a slight crack at its centre, no more.  A blemish on the smooth charcoal grey surface.  Yet there in the midst of all this bareness and waste ground is the glimmer of life, a small gap leading down to the earth below hoping for a little light and a drop of rain.
In the dark of this crevice a timid green spear points skyward reaching desperately for the light.
How far has this shoot pushed up from? How many months has it taken for this one leaf to emerge from the dead road around it?  How many other shoots died on the way to the surface creating the food for others to build upon? Days of growth? Weeks of struggle? Years of death and decay built up the nutrient for this one solitary shoot to push above ground.
What would it be like to be that one leaf, the shoot that strikes the air, the first in that place to feel the breeze on its slender leaf and to remember that thousands like it never made it to reach the surface, hundreds of shoots pushing upwards didn’t make it out, yet all joined together in the effort for this one shoot.  First one, but then afterwards many stronger, larger shoots, a flower perhaps, blooms in the wilderness and a garden is re-born from the earth.  Nature takes back what is rightly hers swallowing the grey with green.  As we celebrate re-birth and resurrection there is nothing quite so optimistic as a desolate place.  Remember the wilderness, the place where God was to be found.

A rare day out

I had the chance to be away from the pulpit today and grabbed it with both hands, well, grabbed the bike and rode before anyone could stop me!!  I was confronted by the usual low-sunday features, small congregation, (no hope of hiding then) quite reflective service, the Gospel was of course about Thomas who I notice Maggi calls ‘Honest Thomas’, a theme I like.

I however, was confronted during the sermon by the arrogance of the church.  I’m sure it was not intended to come across as it did, but to me it sounded as if the preacher was digging hopelessly at those who choose not to believe.  ‘Despite the doubt, it is still true, no matter what you say.’  I’ve an image in my head of someone with their fingers in their ears screaming ‘lah lah lah lah lah’ just not listening because the others view does not fit their understanding of the world.

I think we need to listen to those who doubt, those who say it is untrue, those who find it impossible to believe and instead of replying, ‘Well, no matter what you say, it just is’ perhaps start to question why we believe in the way we do, and to examine our certainty, perhaps becoming a little more humble.  Then perhaps we can reply to those who cast doubts upon faith with a little grace, asking instead, what they do believe in and why.

Perhaps I should have said something, but perhaps, as usual, it was just me…  So I slipped out the door and rode for the hills!