I was never really sure about the annual Civic Service – that was until this year. It was – wait for it – actually quite good fun, well the preparation was anyway!!
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!
To be honest, my words were a little stronger than the title here this afternoon, however after mulling things over / steaming / ranting, it became obvious that the object of my frustration could not be truthfully a generalisation – therefore the following comments are (I would dearly wish to hope, but will probably be proved wrong), specific and localised.
I seem to visit a lot of people – funny that – but most are not regular church goers. Those who profess to have a faith, are I find more often saying things like, ‘The vicar wouldn’t do this’ or ‘Me mam never went to Church after such and such an event.’ Families will talk happily of days spent singing in choirs or being involved some way or another in church activities, until some event. The latest made me ashamed to belong to this institution. The doors of our churches have been shut in the faces of too many people, the hurdles, hoops and obsticles that churchmen (they were all men in those days) put in front of people who were seeking God, a blessing or simply asking questions about meaning in their life were out of reach for many, making God seem distant and uninterested.
It is amazing that some still kept faith in such situations.
It is shameful on those who rejected them. I just feel empty and sad for those who were denied, angry at those who felt it their place to judge and make choices for others.