Sunday, October 30, 2005

Some thoughts on church

Had some good conversations at bible study again on thurs. It's often interesting to chat about passages in a group as you see more things and think of new ways of looking at them, it's easy to get into tangents and having good conversations from them too. We were looking at some parables, esp those where something lost is found, a coin, a sheep, a son. The discussion point was what does your church do to meet the lost? My question was - who are the lost? From the passage it appears to represent a sinner repenting, therefore surely the lost is everyone. We went on to comment on this idea called time to talk of God which came out of the methodist conference. It's strange to think that in a church/worship setting we rarely talk of God with each other, and if we can't communicate well with those whom we share fellowship, how do we best do it with those who don't? Why is it that all our conversations with new people start around where do you live? what is your job? and it's difficult to have conversation without those starters. It's as if our job defines who we are, and definately I felt that when I was a scientist and answered such a question, with out doubt i'm sure it influenced my perception to the questioner. And now when i answer I'm an admin assistant for construction firm it doesn't feel so good, and i know it gives a different impression (i sometimes want to tag in, i'm a doctor too, but then that might make me appear even more pathetic!) So where am I going with this ramble, not sure yet, there's more of this rambling then i'll sum up.

When communicating with people we have to set ourselves in a heavenly situation and the values of stature there are completely different to western culture where prestige and money is a sign of success. There is no doubt that capitilism teaches us that success comes to those that work hard, and that this success is demonstrated in wealth. It's taught at school, work hard etc and you'll get a good job. The thing is I know from experience that you can work hard and attain academic success, cos it's something i enjoy and am good at, but it doesn't necessarily give you a goal for a career, especially if you think there are things that are more important at measuring success than money and career. So it's within this experience that I feel we should meet and communicate with people as people, not their job, not their musical taste (which i'm afraid is my yardstick!), not the clothes they wear, not the colour of their skin, not their sexuality. It's something else that makes the person, and at the moment I don't think I can articulate what that is, but what I'm sure of, is that it is the 'yardstick' of the kingdom of heaven, where the first are last and the last are first. If we can master this, then we are halfway there at communicating the love of God.

Next is this problem where do we do this, of course we should do it at all time, but for people wanting to explore the kingdom of heaven, where do they go. Where do we invite them too. I'm acutely aware that if i am to have conversations about a heavenly kingdom with non church people then it will be at work, and no one I work with lives anywhere near the church i attend, a problem with how 'communities' work these days. So even should I wish to invite them to collective worship, the commute would seem pointless. However, I really feel that collective worship is important, cos Luke tells us it was Jesus' custom to go regularly to collective worship. Here is another stumbling block, what if the week a guest comes, church is rubbish. No one knows the songs, the message from the preacher is less than bearable and the whole time you feel slightly embarressed at inviting a guest. Why? not because church was a bit crap that morning, because God speaks in many ways in collective worship that sometimes you don't spot. i think the reason we get embarressed is because collective worship on a sunday is perceived to be what knowing God is all about, and you perceive your guest thinks that this last 2 hours has summed up your entire experience and understanding of God. Of course it hasn't, in fact there are aspects of worship that I have grown to like more now then I did as a teenager. We need this collective worship just to be the tip of our expereince of God working in and through our lives.

Because this probably doesn't make a deal of sense I'll try to conclude it:

  • To live and communicate as Christians we need to live out the heavenly kingdom, and thus we need to learn the conversations and actions of the heavenly kingdom of which we are part.
  • We need to encourage others to seek the heavenly kingdom on earth and in their lives, using Christ as an example of the heavenly kingdom lived out.
  • In doing this we need to encourage collective worship of some sort, but need to teach that this experience of worship is part of our understanding and worship to God but not all.
  • We need to make collective worship more accessible to those 'communities' of which we ourselves are part.
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