Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Salt of the world

I've been thinking about Jesus' saying his followers about them (and us) being "Salt of the world" (Matthew 5:13) and it's implications for the church and individual Christians in their interaction with the world. I know part of my reflecting on this is driven by my own theology, while being on placement with a very different one. In that tension, I suppose I am trying to justify why I believe in a God who will and does save all the world.

As someone who doesn't really cook with salt, and with the healthy eating stuff we encounter day to day, perhaps this analogy needs updating. To what, I'm not sure. One thing I am sure of, though, is I notice when food has been salted. I'm probably more attuned to it precisely because I do not cook with it. Bread, though, does need just a little, other wise, it's flavourless (and the yeast takes over a bit too much, which can result in a dry, crumbly textured loaf BTW).

And these two things got me thinking. Lets start with the salt in foods when I'm not used to them. I notice the salt, but sometimes because I am noticing it, I no longer taste the food. For those of us who have weened ourselves off salt in cooking, you begin to taste things as they are, really appreciating the flavours. Salt merely enhances them, but if you are attuned to their tastes, salt isn't as necessary. Maybe the Christian life should be like that. For those who are attuned to God's love, whoever they experience it, do they really need us to be salt for them? Do they just see the church and, depending on how salty it is, that gets in their why of seeing and knowing God. The saltiness of the church can mask the love of God...

On the other hand, though, when even a couple of grains of salt are added to a dish, it penetrates the whole. No part of the dish does not have the taste of salt, even though it may only be a subtle change in the dish. Might even be enough to help those who are not used to really tasting food in it's 'unsalted' state to really appreciate the flavours of the dish in all its fullness. Now, thinking of that in relation to Jesus' words - the church being salt of the earth, just a little, all through the world, might just be enough to help people to know God's love for them. To understand and know him in ways they never could if that subtle amount of salt were not in their world. I'd like to minister in the sort of church which tried to do that - encouraging and enabling all in their relationship with God, through the church being flavour in people's work, rest and play.

That would make the church truly salt for the world.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Too informal for me

The longer I am at Caledonia Kirk, the more I realise how I don't like complete informality in an act of worship. It's a balance, I know, and not easy to get right. But I think a certain pattern of the ritual can help the congregation follow proceedings and, through them, get closer to God.

Often, prayers are just offered, with no beginning. I wonder if we are praying at all or it is the person leading worship offering thoughts for the congregation to go away with, until I hear the concluding 'Amen.'. If I'm confused (and I am actively looking out for these clues), I wonder if the congregation gets it?

It was communion the other Sunday and I really struggled to engage with it. The music barely stopped and the musicians didn't sit or move off the 'stage' (yes, that is what they call it. Just don't get me started on that one). People around me are talking as the elements are being passed. I know there's no reason why anyone should be quiet, but the lack of silence is certainly a barrier for me. If it is for me, I'd imagine it's a barrier for others in the congregation.

There were responses too. That's something which hasn't happened before, though they were on the order of service. For some reason, I managed to not get one, but no indication was made they would be there at the start of the communion part of the service, so few took part to begin with. I wonder why they weren't also put on the screen? At least they would have been there for those who, like me, didn't have an order of service.

On a more positive note, the children always return for communion. I know there are some who would criticise this, but I like the fact when all are welcome around the Lord's table, it's really meant. After all, if children aren't allowed to participate in communion, what does that say about the church's attitude to them as part of the body of Christ? Now, that might be a post for another time.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Still here

I realise I have been neglectful of this blog for a while. It's a combination of factors, mainly this is a busy semester at uni and some things I cannot publish in a public forum (no matter how I try to 'sanitise' or 'neutralise' them. So. it's not there's anything up or I've little to say, just there's the time and inclination factor.

Thursday, 14 February 2013


There are many things which do my head in. People trying to talk about science being in conflict with religion (from both sides of the fence), but not really having a clue about it. It especially concerns me when it is a person in authority, as listeners may take their views as the 'correct' one. I know no one can know and/or understand everything, but even if they began their statements with 'I don't really understand this', then that would help.

Another is people who put their view across in such a way that it is the only right view, idea, rational. There's no room for questioning or doubt or argument. It's their way or the highway.

Then people who are always late, possibly quite deliberately late. Leaving me or others hanging, sometimes to our embarrassment. This is made worse by the lack of realising there is anything wrong.

And, while I'm on my rant, people who say they are going to do something and don't. Continually. I know I have forgotten to do things, but have been so apologetic for it. Then, if there's still time, I will do it.

After all, the last 2 are just courtesy, IMHO. I pray I never get so busy or distracted that basic manners go out of the window too.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Wilderness at Lent

Today marks the beginning of Lent (I know, no flies on me!). For the last 3 years I have followed Lent through the Tom Wright "Lent for Everyone" series. I'm wondering if I should revisit the year C one (after all, it is 3 years since I have) or try something new.

Either way, I want to follow some sort of Lent study pattern. I have found it a useful discipline over the last 3 years and, following a sermon I heard the other day, feel Lent should be about doing something, going into the wilderness and coming out better perpared for what lies ahead.

Which does make me wonder what wilderness is in 21st century Scotland. Is it disconnecting from online media (really not an option for me, if just for studying, as all submissions are online)? Is it going off on my own for 40 days (again, might be a bit busy to do that)? Or is it taking time to listen to God's voice and spend time with him and his creation? Now, I can do that.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Slipping in and slipping out

I have been pondering how (and if, indeed, we should) be reaching out to those members of a congregation who only merely turn up for the service then leave. They are polite and friendly, but the fellowship does not extend beyond a few moments before the service and a passing remark as they leave.

I know of someone who is quite dismissive of people who do this and refuse (their opinion, not mine) to be involved in any fellowship. From something they told me, I can't help be think there's a bit of projection going on here, but that's another story.

I know of people where for caring (and increasingly work) commitments they can only afford the hour in church. I am all too pleased to see them - after all, they are there. With all the pressures going on in their lives it would be all to easy to stop attending church. One less thing to juggle. But their desire to worship God in fellowship is important to them and the come.

I also think the lack of understanding the person I referred to has is, in part, an unwillingness to learn the story of those who slip in and slip out. Without knowing their story, if can be all too easy to jump to conclusions and be judgemental.

In my summer placement, I did a number of pastoral visits. Some of those I visited did slip in and out of the service. Through the visits, I got to know them and understand their story. That was humbling and a privilege. I also knew how important the act of worship was in sustaining them in their lives of caring and service. I pray, wherever I minister, I will be able to continue to do this.