"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." “When I hear people say politics and religion don't mix, I wonder what Bible they are reading.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4.19
"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2.12
Monday, August 15, 2011
Adjusting to life in a new church
I’d forgotten what fun going to church can be: not, I’m aware, an utterance one might hear often.
I don’t want to be unfair to the congregation of St. Smalls who were always encouraging and supportive of my ministry, but it was hard to fully appreciate that in the climate of suspicion and perpetual criticism which emanated from the central leadership.
At St. Local’s, though, the pervading culture is quite different. It is one of enabling, of affirmation, of encouragement and of support. I have read and led intercessions in worship on a number of occasions now and my observation is that the congregation and the leadership love to give positive feedback. People come and tell you that they enjoyed what you said, or how helpful they found it, or how nice it was to hear another voice out there. They tell you that they have thought about what you said or how they felt challenged and they thank you for bothering.
I shall be preaching for the first time there this week. When I asked my new vicar if she wanted me to submit my sermon in advance so that she could check it for doctrinal error she was astounded.
“No, why would I do that? I trust you. I work on the basis that people should preach what they believe. If people in the congregation don’t agree it will be a good discussion point. No, I look forward to hearing the unexpurgated version.”
I also seem to have joined the Mothers’ Union, seduced by the company of my new sparky pensioner friends and the prospect of a three course lunch for £5.45.
One of the Churchwardens sidled up to me the other week. He touched the side of his nose. “I know you’re here on work experience.” he said. “Ordination and all that.” I expected him to wink. I have, it seems, been outed.