Wednesday, 16 September 2015

A man doesn't sing.....

A man doesn't sing and the media cries out and shames him because he is not honouring those who have fought for the country. 

Meanwhile, a vote is passed that takes away tax credits from those who most desperately need them and the media is virtually silent.

Meanwhile, Trade Unions are challenged on their role in holding up workers rights and the media is virtually silent. 

Meanwhile, my local tory councillors refuse to debate a move to accept more refugees in the town as my local MP campaigns for better Wifi to make our lives more comfortable.

Meanwhile Hungary builds higher and higher fences as thousands of people are left out in the cold and the BBC changes its language back from refugees to migrants.

God save the Queen, yes, we all need salvation. Yes, honour those who have fought for our country and for freedom, but pray not for more victories, but for peace...... And as we celebrate our freedom, let's give our leaders the freedom to be who they are, not to play some media game. 

God save the poor

God save the oppressed

God save the homeless

God save the refugee

God save the politicians

God save the media

God bring the peace of your salvation, turn weapons into gardens of peace. 

Lord have mercy. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

What Lies Beneath

A paper clip floats... sometimes. If you lay a paper clip gently on top of the water and get it just right it will float. That's because of surface tension. If you look closely you can see the surface of the water embrace the paper clip and hold it in place. If you get it wrong or upset the tension then the paper clip sinks to the bottom. 

That's one thing I was reminded of this summer. I went with my Godsons to do some science and we did all sorts of things I've done before but had forgotten that feeling of ooooo when something you are not expecting happens. 

I've been on pause. I've been in between. In that time I've lost the words 'In training' from the end of 'Minister'. I'm not a different person, I don't even really have a different job (although I'm hoping it feels a little bit different), but I've transitioned, from one to another. I'm at a different place on the journey. 

Over the summer I've been trying to understand myself a bit better and how I relate to the world around me. The last four years has been chaotic as I've been thrown deep into a new life as minister of a church, occupying a different place in society, with totally unexpected challenges to who I am and where I am. As I have been exploring who I am and reflecting on life, I've been looking to see what lies beneath. What makes me think this way? Where is God in what I do and where I go? 

I finished my holiday by going to Barcelona and went to visit the Sagrada Familia. An amazing building, still under construction - the dream of Gaudi who died before it was even started and an iconic landmark on the Barcelona skyline. I went on Sunday morning to see this beautiful building with all the different coloured light streaming through the nature inspired, mathematically constructed nave of the building. 

Round the back of the altar are smaller chapels which are set aside for quiet prayer and contemplation (it being a church and all), despite the very loud video of the history of the building going on in one of the chapels, it was a bit less busy and perhaps a little bit quieter. The apostles creed was hung up in different languages, marking what unites Christians across the world. 

In the middle of the chapels, below what must have been the altar area of the main sanctuary, were some windows that looked down to the crypt. When you looked down you saw a worship area (which is, I found out afterwards, the local parish church). Down beneath the beauty created by Gaudi  being photographed by many tourists was the beauty of a congregation worshipping God. I watched as they shared the peace and I wanted to be with them, not with the tourists who were jostling for the best position to take a photo. 

At the core of the building was faith. The crypt was there before the rest of what is described as a 'temple' was built. In that crypt a faithful group of followers resisted the urge to look up at the tourists as they worshipped God. Although the beautiful temple spoke very deeply of the glory of God, and it, I'm sure, is an amazing place to worship, it was in that crypt that the true beauty of God was displayed; where gathering together to worship was a regular routine of faithfulness, and where the peace of God was shared in a community centred on Christ.

It's too easy sometimes to focus on the surface - on looks, on what's happening now, what's making me happy right now, but what I've been challenged on over the summer, a reminder and a nudge, is that what lies beneath that is most important - what creates the cushion that holds the paper clip up, what sustains faith community in the middle of a commercial tourist venture, what holds me...... it's the deep deep love of our creator God, demonstrated so starkly on the cross through Jesus who died for me, and the assurance I have that there is always hope in him. Buildings crumble, life changes, paper clips sink, but God's love is eternal.