Every day from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday we will be posting extracts from our Easter drama, Company on the Road, written by Mary Gibson, here on the website and also on social media. Each evening we will post some questions to reflect on, along with the video.
Today is Palm Sunday.
The story of Jesus’ last week is told by his friends, disciples, bystanders and other key witnesses, from his entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, to his death and the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Follow the story here and find us on social media:
I have heard a number of people saying how wonderful it is that life has carried on as it has, and how once this is all over (all is a long way away) we don’t need to travel as much as we can do all our meetings by Zoom (other video conferencing apps exist).
I want to challenge this. I believe that we have been able to do it so far because we are living off relationships which already exist. I know there are stories of couples dating on Zoom and then getting together, but I believe that there is a fundamental difference between meeting with someone online who you already know, and forming a new relationship in that way.
This applies to both personal relationships as well as professional ones. The personal ones are perhaps more obvious with the obvious lack of touch, but I believe the professional ones also need physical presence, at least some of the time.
For example, my daughter is returning to work next week after maternity leave, and will be working from home for the foreseeable future. She will be managing staff she has never met before, as well as those she managed before she was off. There is no doubt in her mind that the former will be much harder.
Another issue that I foresee, although one which might now be a fact of life, is the “small stuff”. Twenty years ago the company I then worked for tried out video conferencing, and it did save a significant amount of travelling. However, personally I missed the conversations that took place because I was physically with someone, conversations that weren’t worth making an effort to have, but which when we were face to face cropped up. They were the times I discovered how well our service was working – it might have been well enough not to be complained about – but there were issues which if not addressed would come back to bite us. Similarly, when visiting a site I would speak to lots of different people; video conferencing it would just be the person on the call.
So, yes, when this is over lets look to change things, but please let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater and lose the personal interaction.
Joan Chittister has written a commentary on the Rule of Benedict, and this is serialised on the web with a daily reading from it http://www.eriebenedictines.org/daily-rule. Today (22nd September) the chapters on Obedience and Humility start. I find these a most inspiring set of chapters and would suggest that they are a good place to start with this. If you don’t see this post in time, it is possible to see the previous days reading by clicking on the date above the image.
I have just started rereading this book for our book group, and whilst I remembered many of the “parables”, I had forgotten the introduction.
In it Peter Rollins explains that the purpose of the book is not to provide answers, but to pose questions (I paraphrase). And that the point of these questions is to change our behaviour, not to gain our assent to some ideas. He goes on to point out that so often people will assent to an idea, but then behave as though they don’t believe it; for example saying how terrible materialism is, but then living in a materialistic way.
In the previous article I commented on an article by Simon Jenkins, and he suggested that we should make next year the last Remembrance Sunday because too many use remembering as a means to keep past hurts alive. However, it struck me that the problem is not keeping the memory alive, it is keeping the animosity alive.
Desmond Tutu has written a book on Forgiveness with his daughter Mpho. This puts forward a four step approach to forgiveness, summarised here:
Telling the Story
Naming The Hurt
Renewing/releasing the relationship
It strikes me that at Remembrance the difficulties come because we are good at the first two, but don’t always move on to the third or fourth.
I would suggest that until we have mastered those two steps as well the nursed grievances will remain whether or not we abolish Remembrance Day.
Today’s post was inspired by Pray as You Go (not there for long), and by last Wednesdays group discussion on the Bible. The reading was Luke 16:9-15, and began:
And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.
This surprised me as it was a memorable phrase, which I did not remember!
Looking it up I discovered that it follows on from the Parable of the Unjust Steward, so when I usually read/hear it it is in a particular context. The words are the same, but the context is different (not that the unjust steward is an easy parable to interpret).
It isn’t in the same league as theatre bill boards (see here), but reading something out of context can give a misleading perception.
The question then comes – how do we use the Bible without taking it out of context?
This coming Sunday is Remembrance Sunday, and this morning I read this by Simon Jenkins.
For many clergy Remembrance Sunday is a struggle – how to remember the fallen with dignity, whilst remembering what has happened and wanting to say “never again”, often in the context of military parades. The last thing that many of us would want to do is to preside over “a validation of war by embracing its horrors in religiosity”.
However, my experience in church is that when we struggle to achieve that balance it is welcomed. Whether that is a generational thing, as in many churches, including ours, there are still people who can remember the war, I don’t know. And of course, although Remembrance focuses on the two world wars, there have been many conflicts since, and many killed or injured.
If I were to be provocative I might ask whether the problem is that we don’t remember the more recent conflicts enough! People under 70, which includes most politicians, have no experience of a “big” war. Perhaps if our politicians had, or we Remembered better the smaller wars, there would be less inclination to solve our problems by military means.
Over the years I have heard a number of priests complaining about the increasing amount of management coming into the role of incumbent. Until now I have thought it only sensible that the good bits of modern organisational management theory should be used by the church. However…
Recently the Church of England has adopted new safeguarding procedures, and we have recently been made aware of the GDPR that are coming into force in May 2018. Both of these have added significantly to the administrative overhead of running a parish (and that is before the impact of implementing them is considered). If you are in a parish with several retired managers then this may be dealt with by them, although there is a level of knowledge required that the incumbent probably has in their head that anyone else will spend time finding out. But if you are in a parish without those kind of people the burden falls on the incumbent – and in some of those parishes the incumbent is already doing more administration than in others, perhaps no administrator, and I have heard of some with no treasurer.
This is not a plea for the church to be exempt from either of these – there is good reason why they are needed. However, it is a plea for the national church or dioceses to look at ways to reduce the burden of them on parishes. I will admit that this is a hobby horse of mine, but in the era of the internet providing systems centrally for use across the country is not rocket science, and could just help!
And for those parishes who do have people who can do these things – wouldn’t their time be better spent on ministry rather than administration?
I was reminded by a recent sermon of Craig’s that when preaching it is good to tackle the bits in the passage which challenge us. Indeed, at a previous church, the congregation asked the clergy to specifically address this (rather than preaching on an alternative reading).
They also say that the best sermons are those that are addressed to yourself.
Note to self – remember this and act on it!
Serving the Villages North of Farnham: Badshot Lea, Hale, Heath End & Weybourne