There is but one way…

… to get rid of the snow, and that it to build a sled for the children.  When I have finished it, (June or July sometime) the snow will be gone!  Whilst deciding whether or not to clear the drive and risk the car this morning – (nah, walk!) I was browsing a few books that need finishing.  See my not quite a new year resolution.  At the back of Rowan Williams’ Silence and Honey cakes there is an interesting question and answer section.  In one he expands a little on Vladimir Lossky’s idea of individual and person.

He suggests:

“For every person there is one way in which they can show God, and only they can do it like that.”

I like this attitude very much.  It is respectful of personal distinctiveness.  It allows for a diversity seldom approached in the church.   If reflects the sermon I chickened out of a week or so ago on John 1:10-18. It was mainly on verse 17  and the meaning of the words from which are derived the phrase ‘Grace and Truth’ mainly in the Hebrew word Chesed.  The part at which I stopped short would have said that we have created anew the law and are living in subservience to that, rather than in witness to the ‘Grace and Truth’.  If you take this to its (I’ll have to say ‘perhaps’ here because I’m part of the problem) logical conclusion the structures and organisation or business based Church (basically control) which we run is putting into a small box something that was never intended to be contained and until we let go of control and allow people to be ruled by the heart we will always be smothering something beautiful.  To be continued, after another book I’ve not yet finished – A Celtic Model of Ministry.

Life, Death and Neighbours

Magazine letter for October: A time when we are in the midst of the refurbishment of a church…

Life, Death and Neighbours.

That is I think, a pretty good description of humanity.  We live our life, always aware that it has a beginning and an end.  The art of living a life so fulfilled that at the end of it one can greet ones own death as a life-long companion and happily go on to the next world is a lifelong achievement, one which, I fear, few of us will master.  The description, Life, Death and Neighbours comes, not from a city centre community where everyone lives on top of each other, nor from a small rural community where everyone’s business is known to everyone else.  It comes, rather, from a community where the majority of contact with the outside world is shunned.  A place where people have sought solitude and actively moved away from what we might see as normal human interactions with neighbours.  It comes out of the Desert and derives from a saying by Anthony the Great who is known as the father of modern monasticism.

Our life and our death is with our neighbour.  If we win our brother, [or sister!!] we win God.  If we cause our brother [or sister!!] to stumble, we have sinned against Christ.

Those early pioneers of monasticism in the Egyptian desert and mountains were, perhaps ironically, not looking to flee the contact of others in the way you might expect someone to shut themselves away from the world because they cannot cope with it.  Instead the move into the desert was to find out what church was all about.  They were not convinced that the ordinary churches of their day were a fair representation of what it would be life to be a true follower of Christ and be truly in touch with ones God.

The harsh message of the desert is that in order for us to become true followers of Christ and to be able to dwell in the realm of God, (you might want to call this having a ‘spiritual life’) this wont happen unless we mend our relationships with our brothers and sisters, our neighbours and then sustain them.

I write of this because it is happening in our midst.  The church building in Greenfield is being renovated and the people are in a wilderness of sorts.  Instead of being a time for gloom and despondency, it is a time to heal the wounds between one another, for the people’s relationships to be ‘renovated’ as well.  A time to come closer together as a prayerful group and to look closely at what binds us together and what drives us apart.  It is about winning the neighbour as St. Anthony writes, however this doesn’t mean converting them by beating them about the brow.  It is rather about careful attention to their needs.  We must pay careful attention to the needs of all in our communities, to invite them in gently aware of each others brokenness and willing to grow together.  Only then will the church building be ready to receive us back and only then will we be ready to return to it renewed refreshed for the next stage of our journey.

(With material from the chapter ‘Life, Death and Neighbours’ in ‘Silence and Honey Cakes’ by Rowan Williams)

power, POWER and more P O W E R

is what it is all about.

I fear Rowan’s comments were made on a day when there was little news!

I also wonder why so many are jumping up and down, wanting him to resign, of course it is just another stick with which to bash him. I feel ashamed to belong to such a church!

Evidently, the age old law enshrined in English law of being allowed to settle a dispute out of court, so long as the two parties agree on the method, has been repealed. Well, I assume it has, because the extent to which the politicians are banging on about the comments made by Rowan Williams in the light of his suggestion that the Sharia laws should, in certain circumstances, eg marriage, be recognised in the uk are a disgraceful show of how power mad and hungry the British politicians are. It also shows a total disregard for religious tolerance in the country. A very humble, and humbling remark from Rowan Williams (how many of us could suggest that someone else knows best in matters of their own faith) that those who wish to choose Sharia law for certain disputes has created the most obvious sign that those who believe that they are in power in this country are afraid.

They fear the word Sharia and its interpretation in some countries, they fear the Muslim population, they obviously fear a cool and calculated mind.

Perhaps the church might watch this debate wrangle on and sidestep the pitfalls of the power hungry.

Where has the hospitality of this country gone?