Wrong shape, wrong, size, wrong “something”

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I can think of a handful of people who changed me.  Outside of immediate family that is.  People I met.  People I hadn’t known before or knew after.  Who came into me life and left leaving me changed.  Family I think of – in this context – as the soil, the air, the sun and rain.  But those who enter and leave again – they are sowers of seed.

Jesus is a sower of seed.  The bible is a seed.  Church and church life, all the fellowship, community, programmes and “service” are the environment.

Those people who changed me didn’t know they had or did.  Sowers of seed don’t start with that expectation.  They live with hope.  Hope that something good might come of what they sow.  Hope that some might allow that seed.  Allow a personal fermentation and sprouting.  Because a seed can live for years in a sterile environment.  An environment that keeps a seed a “seed”.  Never taking root, never dying as a seed to become something greater.

Sowers of seed cannot dictate the environment that seed finds.

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I think that is where we struggle with church life and “religion”.  We confuse seeds with environment.  We think we can grow crops, we think we can modify seeds to produce greater fruit, we think we can count the seeds we offered as plants that we grew.  But no one has ever “grown” a seed in me.  I do that.  I am the environment in which a seed lands.  I am a sterile environment or not.  And sometimes seeds can rest within me for years untouched and unnoticed.  Until I am the right place and time for that one small and tiny seed.

For me the bible is a seed.  And when I try and live in that “seed” I confine both myself and the seed.  When I live for the bible and of the bible I don’t become the great big tree in which others live – I become tiny like the seed itself.  Scared of change.  Scared of becoming something bigger than I think I could or should.  Scared of being something that looks different, that smells different, that thinks differently – that is different from the seed.  That must be different if the seed is to be anything other than a “seed”.

I see that same confusion with the coronavirus.  We are scared of change.  Scared of the unknown.  Even when the unknown is not that different to the known: that those who live with less health and greater age live a more precarious life (despite medical science and miracles).  But our usual repressed fear sprouts in such times.  We are scared we might be without.  Scared we might not have all the comforts we regard as essentials.  We remain seeds scared of what might “get us” – scared of all that is outside our comfort zones.  So we withdraw (prep and panic buy) and isolate ourselves (literally in some cases).  We pull-in and focus on “me me me” even more than usual.

That has comparisons with the church life and religion I have known all my life.  Because against all the taught “advice” of a lifetime … the more I don’t read the bible – the more I know the bible.  Just as the more I don’t read all the panic news about coronavirus – the more I know the virus (and I am one with “underlying issues” and “age category” against me).

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Just as against all the taught advice of a cultural-Christian lifetime, the more I don’t go to church the freer I am.

Free of the constrictions of guilt.  The guilt of am I doing enough – am I a good Christian … ?  Free of the constriction of faith – a constriction of believing the same as others  … do I fit-in (so that I can make a difference) … ?  Free of the need for compromise between family-who-won’t/don’t and church-life-that-does/must … How much do I give and to whom and how and when … ?  Free of a diary always being double-booked and massaged …  Free to allow “seeds” to grow as big (and as weirdly) as they allow.

As I allow.

I read that @ 30% of farm produce never makes it off the farm and into our shops.  Wrong shape, wrong, size, wrong “something” … all because it won’t look the same as “proper shaped and correct size” stuff (we do see on the shelves). 

I find that horrifying. 

That we talk about saving the planet and climate change and plastic … yet 30% of the very fuel of life we keep out of sight and discard.   And yet that 30% comes from the same seeds as the “proper and correct” ones.

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The seeds I have allowed make me who I am.

I have no idea if I am of the 30% (wrong) of 70% (correct and proper).  But why is that even relevant?  I am who I am.  And more and more I find the moment to be seeded with all I need. 

For that is where Love lives and growth happens.

If I allow.

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It’s just no one can see it anymore

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Over at justmebeingcurious today …

“Love conquers death.  Love conquers a hard-heart.  Love’s the first and last thing we each know – whether by love’s presence OR by love’s absence.”

As we say at Church Set Free: Love is always the answer.

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“When were you last at confession?  When were you last at church?  When did you last read the bible?  When did you last pray to God the Father?  When did you last give?  When did you last … “

As we say in church.

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This Sunday, why not spend a few minutes with

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Dearly beloved …

As we gather here today …

 

 

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Thank you,

Paul

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Getting the job done

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Facebook post by “Clergy Coaching Network”
“The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state,
but rather the conscience of the state.  It must be the guide and the critic
of the state, and never its tool.  If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal
it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

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And a selection of comments …
I have problems interpreting what was intended for a theocracy to be for a non-theocratic state like America.
Jesus was very political.
But that prophetic zeal must always be tempered with discernment to assure that the Holy Spirit is behind the message.
What does he mean by prophetic zeal?
Read Amos or Micah or Hosea.

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And “theocracy” … ?
“Theocracy, government by divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided. In many theocracies, government leaders are members of the clergy, and the state’s legal system is based on religious law. Theocratic rule was typical of early civilizations.”
And “prophetic” … ?
“The adjective prophetic traces all the way back to the Greek word prophētikos, meaning “predicting.”  You know who’s really good at predicting stuff?  Prophets.  Usually, prophetic is used to describe a thing — like a warning, a feeling, or a complaint — rather than a person.”
And “zeal” … ?
“Zealous is the adjective for the noun zeal “eager partisanship”; the latter has a long e, but zealous has a short one: ZEL-uhs.  It can have a slightly negative connotation, and people are sometimes described as “overzealous,” meaning they try too hard.”

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More and more I see the clergy “qualified (in God)” having this consequence.

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All the theological-and-seminary-production-line-consequence of a bible “authorised” by scholars (themselves previously qualified in God).  Just seems too familiar – a constant throwback to the good old (biblical) days when Jesus kept saying:

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“You have seen it written but I say … “

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All the theological-and-seminary-production-line-consequence of … “Let’s get back to the original Greek”“Scholars are agreed that this definition – ““If only you would actually study your bible (like I do) – “ …  Just like the good old (biblical) days when Jesus kept saying:

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“All of that don’t get you close to God … “

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I have a job.

When something goes wrong we go forensic:  “What happened, why did it happen, how can we stop it happening again?”  And I find myself suggesting that instead of yet another “process change” – we just care a little more and a little better.  That we remember why we are doing “this” and who we are doing “this”for. 

In my job it is a bunch of wonderful human beings we call a “temp team”.  A bunch of “temps” who are our company out there in all these different Client’s premises.  A bunch of human beings just like us – with lives to live, bills to pay, people they love, frustrations and hope and dreams and comfort zones.

And we can “process map” the hell out of “caring for them” …  But just “caring for them” – loving them for who they are, what they are and where they are … always!

That gets the job done.   

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The qualified in God clergy have a job.

And it isn’t “working for the church”.   It isn’t about running a slick operation called the church.   It isn’t about being qualified in God.   It isn’t even about NOT being a “false teacher” (more deja vu … “You have seen it written but I say … “)

And I find myself suggesting that instead of yet another debate about “going back to the original” for yet more “spiritual discernment” …

We just care a little more, a little better.  That we remember why we are doing “this” and who we are doing “this”for … for a bunch of wonderful human beings who are neither “our flock” nor “the lost” … but a bunch of humans just like us with lives to live, bills to pay, people they love, frustrations and hope and dreams and comfort zones.

And we can “correctly interpret” the hell out of the bible “caring for them correctly” …  But just “caring for them” – loving them for who they are, what they are and where they are … always!

That gets the job done.   

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Stop emphasizing guilt

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Understanding The New Apathy About Church Attendance

“For example, while scrolling through my Facebook feed last weekend, I came across multiple posts with sarcastic takes on how sad/interesting/ridiculous it is that people can get up early for a sale at Walmart or to sit on freezing seats for a sporting event, but they can’t get up for church on Sunday.

Oh my.

There are so many things wrong with that kind of thinking I hardly know where to start.”

And this …

“Church attendance or non-attendance is a less accurate measure of someone’s commitment level or spiritual maturity than we’ve convinced ourselves it is.”

Or this …

“That’s what we need to do.

Stop emphasizing guilt about church attendance.  Start emphasizing the joy of belonging.”

Karl Vaters, Christianity Today

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