Every time I visit the men’s toilets here at Shirley Church I am reminded of the belief that we live in an ordered world. For several month’s now one of the toilets has been leaking, the taps turned off, and the door blocked with a large sign. ‘Out of order’. The sign could have said ‘broken’, ‘keep out’ or ‘Do not use’ , but instead it reminds us that at this point in time, the toilet in question will not work as a toilet should. It does not fitting in to its place in the world. It is ‘Out of order’.
I can’t help saying to myself. Well its time we got some more order. Actually I believe we need a whole new cistern, which probably means new toilet bowls, which could mean new plumbing, and goodness knows how the rest of the pipes are.
In our human institutions, however, the response when things don’t work as they once did, or when significant challenges face us is to ‘get some more order’. Once upon a time, and not that long ago, our meetings were often punctuated by someone shouting ‘point of order!’ [The desperate cry of one feeling threatened.] We also add rules and regulations, and ensure the process is followed with an absolute rigour. As if we could grow people in plantations like so many pine trees.
At times we do need ‘order’ like that. In line at the checkout, but maybe not when the line is for urgent surgery and many other factors must be factored in. There still needs to be order, but its more to do with relationship, rather than straight lines and rules. In fact when I think of an ordered world, I think of a world defined by relatedness. A complex interdependence, where even the seemingly insignificant has an effect on the whole. The smile or greeting which puts me in as good mood, has spin off’s all along the day. The sort of random and intentional goodness which squeezes its way into our lives, prompted by the Spirit of God, blowing where it wills.
So I as head off for Methodist Conference next week, should I be looking for the order of straight lines and neat solutions. The tidy garden approach. Or should I be rejoicing in seeming Chaos, knowing that there the Spirit will be hovering, once again using it as the raw material of creativity.
A response to last weeks e-fish
Note: Your comments and correspondence is always welcome.
As a long time musician, however, can't resist being a
little pedantic. The descriptive terms are not Latin (tut tut) but Italian.
The writer makes a good point though about church language being incomprehensible to a newcomer. Actually it is also sometimes the same to an oldcomer! I think the point is however, that it is not quite a valid comparison (music/religion). After all, music is being renewed and rewritten and revised and represented all the time. And it is attracting a wide range of people of all ages. Whereas the Church's message tends to be the same day in day out.... Perhaps there is a message there?
Regards Graham Weir
Thank you for the correction Graham. At least I was claiming not to understand the terms. My error proves my point. You make a good point too about the way we present our message. The Christchurch Symphony has had sell out concerts in conjunction with contemporary artists such as Bic Runga. Is this a case of “If you have ears, let them hear?”
I was interested to read part of the sermon of an Episcopalian Bishop, Paul Marshall
Delivered as an opening address at a two day Convention over last weekend in Eastern Pennsylvania USA.
“I am grateful,” he said, “to be part of a church that strives to represent the very best of the Christian tradition in ways that speak to contemporary hearts... that is so often a place of refuge for divorced people, intellectual people, artists and many others who are, in fact, no longer welcome at the Lord’s Table in other communities... a church less and less interested in its former glory and more and more interested in the poor, the oppressed, and all the people whom it is easy to discount or despise... a church that does not run away from difficult issues or deceive itself about the complexity of biblical interpretation.”
“In an act of singular grace, God has reassigned the Episcopal Church from an existence as the elite form of mainline Protestantism to a church agonizing to regain missionary zeal, a church still seeking to recognize the full humanity of women, a church seeking to listen to every voice raised in witness to the power of God, even when those voices speak a language other than English or inhabit disabled bodies or experience affections unlike those of the majority.
If you just skim read those paragraphs, can I invite you go read them again.
Is this our reality also?
If so what are the issues this raises for your Community of faith?
Prop. A bicycle, preferably one which hasn’t been used in a while.
You might begin by finding out who has a bike at home and how long since they last used it. Some will have used their cycles recently, others will not have done so for many years.
A discussion might follow as to what a bike is for. [A means of transport, to have fun on, a means to keep fit etc]
Then ask what tends to happen to the bike if it is left in the garage. It gets covered in dust, the chain might rust, the tires go flat, and maybe perish. It works best when it is used.
The stages of our lives mean we can out grow using a bike. But it illustrates what happens when we stop using something. Our joints and muscles deteriorate too if not used.
Jesus talked about loving God, and loving neighbour and loving self, not as a theory, but as something we do. What deteriorates if we do not use and exercise love?
Which adjective doesn’t belong – Or what do they have in common?
Pornographic, Political, Religious, Libelous, Misleading or Deceptive
The United Methodist Church has committed $21 million to a four-year advertising campaign. It had contracted to run a 30-second television ad 10 times daily from Nov. 17 to Nov. 30 on what has been described as one of the most prominent sites on the planet: the 28-floor, 7,000-square-foot electronic billboard on the side of the Reuters building on Times Square. An estimated 1.5 million people cross by daily.
Today’s Washington Post (Saturday, Oct. 25) reports that two weeks after the $30,000 contract was signed, the money was returned: Reuters does not carry ads on its billboard that are "pornographic, political, religious, libelous, misleading or deceptive."
The very soft approach TV spot, already shown on 17 national cable and broadcast networks including NBC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel and ABC Family Channel, shows a woman delivering brightly wrapped packages to various locations in a city, then returning home to find a similar gift on her doorstep. A voice-over says: "If you're searching for ways to share your gifts with others, and possibly even receive something in return, our hearts, our minds and our doors are always open. The people of the United Methodist Church."
Go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A14141-2003Oct24?language=printer to access the WPost story by Alan Cooperman, Methodists’ Ad Rejected For Spot in Times Square.
Well that is all for this week
Grace and peace
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