Tag Archives: Vision

Election 2015: Will the Church Please Stand Up.

The band played loudly, and victoriously, the preacher inspired us, built us up, ready to go out and serve the Lord where ever we might find ourselves. There was an air of optimism and hopefulness in the crowd of worshippers, that nothing was impossible for God.

Except I didn’t connect with the outpouring of the exuberant optimism, I didn’t share the smiles on their faces, or hands held aloft in worship. It wasn’t that I didn’t sense a of the move of the spirit, as everyone else was.

It’s just the spirit was telling me something else. That for me my journey would be a rougher road. Rather than a sense of optimism, I felt I was entering into a season of struggle, instead of feeling hopeful and full of faith, I wondered if my faith was strong enough to overcome.

I was struck by the assumption from the band that everybody would be feeling uplifted and exuberant, I longed to join in, instead fell silent. Seeking God in the midst of the cacophony of beautiful music, seeking God for the road ahead, for the unseen difficulty and struggle. I didn’t know what it meant, or if I had misunderstood what the Lord saying.

It seems to me and within this country there are those, who will be exuberantly rejoicing at the Conservatives being re-elected, and also those for whom such news is perhaps as bad as it gets. There is a need for sensitivity in recognising our neighbour may feel very differently to ourselves.

But also as I sat in that auditorium filled with worship of the living God, there is a need to be reminded, that this living God, understands the human condition, the nature of joy, as well as the long road of suffering. For Gods son, knows these things, experienced these things, and in him we try to trust, even if the road ahead, is smooth or rough.

As brothers and sisters in Christ we are part of the kingdom of God, the kingdom that does not sit idly by. The kingdom that liberates, brings hope, restoration, and resurrection. We are Gods children, and may we see through his eyes, the world around, full of possibility, and aching brokenness, of both a sense of hopefulness in a manifesto and dread at what it might mean for the most vulnerable in society.

We each are children of the living God regardless of our political persuasion, and members of the kingdom of God, that causes us to look out of our box, or worldview, and walk with our neighbour, the destitute, the super rich, the famous, the sinner, and the saint, not that we might be glorified, but that God who sees the beginning and end might be glorified.

Furthermore that people might come to know a different political structure, the structure of the kingdom of God, that outlasts, outlives, and saves completely in every way. And that the values of such a kingdom might underpin who we are, how we live out our personal preferences, desires, ambitions and response to the UK General Election.

A Liberating Collar


denim_clerical_shirt

I have heard it say the bit of white plastic inserted into a clerical shirt is reminiscent of a slaves collar! Others say it originated from a need to differentiate the ordained from the laity and began its life as a humble cravat.

The kind of people who wear it are presumed to be men and women who believe in jesus’s death and resurrection and are ordained church leaders. Yet who hasn’t read of priests and ministers who abuse their power and wear the same uniform. Who hasn’t heard of opposing church leaders at loggerheads yet wearing the same plastic slip in collar.

At its heart the clerical shirt and its collar is a symbol of something bigger than church politics or the unethical priest, bigger than church divisions and evangelical and liberal arguments. It is a door opener, it sends a message before you even open your mouth. I haven’t worked out what universally that message is yet, perhaps you could leave a comment!

I am one of the clerical collar wearing brigade, and often am so busy encouraging others to see Gods big vision, I sometimes forget myself in the minutia of a complex meeting or some theological argument that seems life and death, that around my neck is the big picture.

The big picture of a God who sees and knows my name. The collar becomes a slave statement to one thing, that of Gods purpose and provision. Not church, not theological sticking points. Instead to the one truth that God is love, and he wants relationship with us through Jesus and that is the message my congregations needs to hear.  Be nurtured in and centred around. Not what colour the carpets are, or whether or what worship should be.

Overtime the collar disappears figuratively and literally, as it becomes who you are. Indeed in some places not wearing the collar is very appropriate, but it doesn’t mean your less it means more than ever you become what the collar represents and embodies, a pointing to a bigger dimension.

Happily scripture reminds us that we are all part of a priesthood of believers, we are all sons and daughters of God and in him have particular roles and duties. let us not let our day to day be so focused we miss Gods big picture for his global mission. Let us control our tongues from tearing down what God needs to be built, increased, nurtured, loved and cherished, his church, the people of God.

So lets wear the meaning of the clerical collar with pride, seeking the best for others in Gods economy without prejudice, without regard for self, but pointing people to a deeper meaning and a deeper narrative of hope. In fact this is something we should all be doing ordained or not. Listening for a narrative steeped in the timelessness of God three in one, and as we speak may the presence of the Living one impress on others, challenge, bring hope conviction and liberation.

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