Maybe it’s just the way I view the world, but I see my vocation (the calling from God to train to be an ordained minister) as one that can’t be put down, then taken up when it suits me, if I wear a collar or not, I’m still me, the person God has called for some reason.
The calling isn’t a nine to five, Monday through to Friday repeat kind of Job, I’m called by this God to make a difference in the world, which I do without any payment what so ever, it’s a vocation to be, be me, be real …… I could go on!
I’m what’s called a non-stipendiary, I hate that terminology but that’s what the church calls us, I do however wonder, if the so-called stipendiary ministers (Ministers who get paid some money so they don’t have to work) had to have a full-time paid job as well as doing their ‘minister’ vocation, how many of them would still partake with God in ministry?
I wonder if the same number of meetings would still be scheduled?
The importance of daily office at an exact time would still be enforced?
I also notice that in a day I would encounter more non church people than a full-time member of clergy would, I’m in the community working, working alongside people who wouldn’t dream of talking to a member of clergy, but, despite knowing I’m ordained they feel able to question me about many things, surely this should be seen as apart of pastoral care, but the church only seems to see pastoral care as when I’m wearing a collar talking to those people in the church, whereas I’d argue that the more fulfilling, lifegiving, humbling experiences come when talking to those on the outside, the people on the margins, that’s where I get energy from.
Sadly, nothing more drains me, disturbs me than a conversation with a church going, who has everything sown up and sorted, she or he are going to heaven, the bible says x and y etc, they worry more whether the church linen has been ironed in the correct way!
Oscar Romero wrote the following
“A church that does not provoke any crisis,
preach a gospel that does not unsettle,
proclaim a word of God that does not get
under anyone's skin or a word of God that does
not touch the real sin of the society in which it is
being proclaimed: what kind of gospel is that?”
I look at the church of today, nothing has changed since Oscar Romero wrote the words above, the church has lost its voice, any backbone the Archbishops had have been surgically removed once they take up office and returned when they leave this office, why, oh why is it that once many former archbishops leave office they start speaking out, saying what the country, the world needs to hear, only now to fall on death ears.
Clergy sermons are even less inspiring, focusing on the past, not relating to what’s going on now, what spiritual message the word of God is giving us for this time and this place, this generation. Bland and boring, this is what we get. Where have the storytellers of old gone, that’s what we need, people to dig deep into the word, extract the gold hidden within it, speak of its truth as of today.
We need people to preach the gospel so it unsettles the hearer and the speaker, to proclaim the word so it gets under the skin, to speak the Kingdom Come, to denounce all that strives to delay, undermine the work of the Kingdom Come.
The Old wineskin has truly had it, it’s time, time to reimagine, to prepare for the Kingdome Come, the world is looking for spiritual, moral and ethical leadership but the church seems to have lost its way, too committed to structure, institutions, cow-cows too much to those in power over us instead of speaking to power, to hold it to account for it’s wrongs, for how it treats humanity, for its miss-use of wealth and how we treat the world around us.
I’d like to see the church more engaged in social action, to write to those in power over us, bringing them to account for their willful actions, for us to stand up for those without a voice to say, STOP, this isn’t right, to suggest other things to explore for the greater good.
So, church we stand at a crossroads in time, where do we go from here, to explore new ways of being, to usher in God’s Kingdom or do we stick with the old way, the safe way and maybe miss out on an amazing adventure with God?
Go to those you love and those you are called to love.
A friend via facebook asked me this question: what does this love of others look like to you Anderson? (Especially those we don't love.)
This is a difficult question to wrestle with but here are my thoughts at this moment, however as I learn and develop I reserve the right to move forward from these words.
I find it easy enough to feel love and hope for people who are friends and family or just people who hold the same views and values as I do , but the God of my understanding keeps nudging me to extend the same benevolence to person’s we’d wish to avoid, whose values and ideals are far from ours.
Namely these types of people:
robbery and violence.
Having a attitude to love these people does not condone their behaviour or underplay the seriousness of their deeds.
In a just society, there must still be accountability within the law that is still the case.
However, this does not mean that we don’t understand that the perpetrators are also in pain, that we believe there is still goodness and light in their soul , all is not lost, we can help him or her reconnect with their loving self, we affirm the potential for healing.
I read recently that within the Jewish tradition they strongly believe that every Jewish person in the world containing this divine spark just waiting to be ignited—regardless of religious observance or faith.
I believe Jesus would want us to walk with everyone we encounter be it those we love or those we are called to love to walk with them and just listen to their story and maybe, just maybe the divine spark will ignite in them.
Dear Mrs May (aka PM of the UK)
I know I’m just a normal citizen of the UK, I'm not privy to all the facts if any regarding Brexit but here is my plea to you as our appointed leader.
Please just admit to us you are just groping in the dark after all this cause of action has never had to be taken before, there are no written procedures lets face it! Maybe if the government at the time also admitted it didn’t know what would happen post-Brexit then we’d not be in the mess we are, but that’s in the past, it’s too late to go back, so……
Lets at least try and put aside political rivery and get a cross-party group together to work out a plan which benefits the common good for humanity not just what the UK wants.
Then armed with something that has been worked on together go together to the next meeting and work as a team to get the best deal.
In the Celtic tradition, they talk about ‘thin places,’ a thin place is where you can almost touch, sense even smell heaven. Heaven to me is like when the outside and inside temperatures reach a certain point, condensation appears on the window, yet unknown to us the droplets of water are around us all the time, yet we don’t see them until the conditions are exactly right.
As I reflect on the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire a year on, I see two very different images -
The earth is placed at the best possible distance from the sun to maintain the right surface temperature suitable for life and the many important geological processes!
The tilt of the earth is at the best angle possible so it causes the seasons to occur along with associated fluctuations in weather, producing a maximum amount of farmable land and pleasant seasons. The current rotation of the earth helps to uniform the heat of its surface and causes winds and ocean currents.
The earth’s atmosphere has both the correct composition and density.
The presence of such a vast Ocean on our planet is I think evidence of God’s divine planning and foresight. No other planet is known to have a permanent supply of liquid water. The chemical and physical properties of liquid water are necessary for life to survive. The world ocean regulates the earth’s temperature and serves as a reservoir for may important chemicals.
How, except by divine planning and design, could all of this have come into being, everything seems to be in the right place, could this really have come about by accident?
I marvel at the earth, God’s intelligence and Handiwork are a marvel, the psalmist marvelled at God’s work like this:
“In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the strength of the hills is His also. The sea is His, and He made it, and His hands formed the dry land. Oh, come let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our maker” Psalm 95:4-6
In life, there seems to be more and more a lack of what I call ‘joined up thinking’ what I mean by this is we’ve built metaphorical silos keeping information in one place and not sharing it with others for the greater good.
During the last week (to pick just one story which seems to reoccur daily) we had a bad snow storm the BBC sent out local and national radio and TV staff to cover the same story, wouldn’t it not be a better use of resources to send out one team to cover the story for all their networks, it would be better for the environment, safety of staff.
The local staff would have a better understanding of the local area and issues which could arise from the story thus giving a better holistic understanding of the story to the viewers.
It would of course also reduce spending which is surely a good thing with all the cuts being introduced at the moment.
I’d welcome your comments?
Redundancy is a word none of us wants to hear, yet for many of us, it’s a reality we are going to have to face.
When my boss meets with me to discuss the redundancy and the future of the organisation in another building, another phase of its operation, it hurts a great deal.
Knowing I’m not going to be involved in shaping its future, I’m no longer needed, it feels as if with each meeting a plaster is ripped off, I’m stabbed and the plaster is put back on.
I am told that the prison population contains a worrying number of young talented football players who have been nurtured by a premier league club but, because of injury or the stiff competition, have been “let go”. The impact of losing a future that has been one’s intense desire for as long as you can remember is devastating. The football life and the military life alike generate the most unbelievably intense passion. These are not just jobs; they amount to an identity, an investment of our being, our state of mind.
Passion for one’s occupation is not wrong. To be fulfilled in work is one of God’s blessings. To find your vocation in life is to discover and be able to use and develop the gifts that God has given you by his divine grace.
Where I work there is a tangible sense of bereavement, the spark has vanished and heartbeat is faint, There have been tears, even wails of anguish. The loss of one’s job is bad enough, there is also the loss of one’s identity some of the questions we’ve all wrestled with are:
Who am I?
Am I any good at anything?
Will I find a job?
How will I cope?
It’s not just the loss of Job, it’s the loss of community, as a group of people who work together we’ve built a community, we’ve broken bread together in the form of sharing cakes and thoughts together, we’ve shared the high’s a low of being human with each other, yet one word has dismantled that community forever.
I can only speak through my own personal circumstances, but from what I hear from others in the same place some of what I’ve said is true for them as well.
In times of austerity unknown for at least a generation, we can perhaps be even more grateful for Jesus’ reminder that where our treasure is, there will our heart be also. Having our treasure invested in a job is never enough for a meaningful life.
Investing in the treasure of a relationship with God is the only identity that finally counts.
I end with a prayer that sums up everything I’ve said:
Loving Father, we live in a society that often values people according to the work they do and the salaries they earn. People without work can feel lost and discarded. Teach us, good Lord, to value them as you do. Help us who know them to assuage their bitterness and anger. May they find peace in the knowledge of your love, and the confidence to offer themselves for retraining and employment. Grant them that security in your love which will enable them to bounce back from their sense of rejection, and know that delight in your providence through which they may move forward and prosper in new-found work or in their new way of life.