Monday, December 26, 2011

Doh!

We visited a local church on Christmas day, for the first time. We actually enjoyed it - it felt quirky and therefore similar to the church we ministered in and loved in Liverpool - Trinity Church, Page Moss. Half way through the service an elderly lady appeared, dressed from head to toe in pink, complete with angel wings and halo - not, as we assumed, to take part in the service, but just because it was fun to dress that way. The service proceeded normally, but you had the feeling that chaos or comedy was never far away. Our kind of church.

Then the service ended, we shook hands with the Vicar, and came home. Which disappointed me, because the members of that church should have been all over us like a rash. A family, two middle aged parents, a son of 24 and a daughter of 18 - families like us are gold dust in church these days. Maybe they assumed we were just visitors to the area, or once-a-year churchgoers - but the point is, nobody even asked. They don't have any contact details for us, so there will be no follow up. Honestly - pathetic and tragic.

Compare this to Mike's recent trip to the dentist for a check up. They found nothing that needed any work doing - but all the same, a day after his visit a postcard arrived welcoming him to the practice.

If we can't even get the very basic concepts of welcome and care for people when they visit our churches, then there is little hope. So we're going to go back to that failing church, and see if we can change things round!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thoughts and Prayers

I write this blog as Christchurch struggles to cope with yet more powerful aftershocks. The social media sites have been filled with messages of support, a simple, immediate and effective way of conveying our deep and sincere sympathy for the folk of that battered city.

I was provoked to write again after a long silence by one such twitter - which ended "my thoughts are with you all again today". While understanding the sentiment, I was struck by what an impotent expression of support this is. Thoughts alone offer no hope, no solution, and little comfort.

My experience so far has been that my Christian faith is at its best and most useful in times of crisis and emergency. To be able to send the promise of prayers is so much more powerful a statement - that into this mess we can intentionally invite the Lord God Almighty, Creator of the Universe, Lord of Lord and King of Kings - offers supreme hope, consolation and a little optimism.

So with joy I send my prayers to the distraught and drained folk of Christchurch; to a friend's friend whose son who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy; indeed to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Prayers do not arouse God to action, or bring him into a situation - as Bishop Kelvin wrote "God is not, cannot be absent." But they serve to remind us that he is available, and able, if we can but see.