Tuesday, 29 November 2011

How others see us?

I started this working week with a visit to the Open Door Cafe for my coffee. I was putting up posters for Messy Church on Saturday (the banner will go up later when the wind dies down!) and stayed for coffee. I met a few people that I didn't know: a guy called Scott who's taking some Tuesdays off work to look after his son because his wife has gone back to work yesterday and their son doesn't start nursery till January. I had an interrupted conversation with a mum who thought that on the last occasion she came to a church service, the people there were all very old! She said that there was a young minister there - in 2006! Have I aged? Someone asked me recently if I was about to retire!

How others see us? Perceptions that people have of Church will shape the decisions they make - will I go to Church or not? How do we change these perceptions? Meeting people, listening to people, talking to people - it's a start!

Some of you have children who grew up in the life of the Church, but now don't attend. Why did they leave? What was it about the church that meant so much to their parents that they rejected? What would it take for your adult children to want to come back?

This link is to a video about Advent: it is a trailer for a website called busted halo that my browser complained about, but the You Tube trailer is well worth watching! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S02KOlw7dlA

The on-line Bible readings on SU's Wordlive site this morning are all about the forces that shape our lives. Isaiah 47 is a reflection on what shapes our lives: pleasure, superstition, self - or God. "I am, and there is none besides me" - these are words we declare about God, but Isaiah uses them to show that people in our world say them about themselves; atheism will declare that it is the force in Western civilization.

The challenge for Christians is to know that these words are only true of Jesus and that we live as if Jesus is the only 'I am' who shapes the way we think, speak and act.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The ties that bind...

Folks, it has been a while since my last blog. What moved me to write today?

We're seeing new riots in Cairo, with Tahrir Square full of protesters all over again. Nothing has changed, as far as they are concerned, with the Generals in full control and not about to give it up. There is a news story today that 3 leaders of the Khmer Rouge are facing trial at the United Nations-backed tribunal in Cambodia; Cambodians hope that they will be able to understand why one Khmer could attack another, something that has bemused them ever since Pol Pot's uprising in 1975.

How are we connected to these stories and to the people of Egypt and Cambodia?

  • We are connected by our common humanity; we see people like us (and they are people like us, with their hopes and aspirations, dreams and disappointments) suffer in ways that concern us, or make us angry.

  • There are Christians in both Egypt and Cambodia and we share a family bond with them; the Christians of Cairo who are facing persecution, and the Christians of Cambodia, some of whom we know well, are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

So we pray for them and long that God will bring peace and stability to these two places along with other parts of the world.

This morning, I have been reading Acts 20:17-38, Paul's farewell speech to the elders of the Church in Ephesus. He describes his Christian service and how he has served the Lord with his life that he feels is now in danger and perhaps nearly over. He has been faithful; those listening would be able to verify his claim. This is not pride and arrogance, but a deep awareness of God's grace enabling Paul to be the servant of God in his situation.

Faithfulness: that's the challenge of this Bible passage. We are not called to be superstars of the Church or the Christian faith; we are called to be faithful. Faithfulness is about holding on to the things that matter and living them out. Faithfulness does not mean everything stays the same (that's the mistake the Egyptian generals are making because they want to hold on to power!), but that we share the gospel with others, including the next generation, so that they can follow Jesus and serve Him too.

I'm spending 2 days this week carrying out interviews for new Trustees of the Church of Scotland; pray for us that we find the correct people to serve Christ and the Church well in that setting.