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Me in my… world.

I just read this post on a blog I really like and it got me thinking about the idea of imagination as our capacity to enter the world of another.

The author of the blog talks about how she’s making a conscious effort to slow down and to “walk alongside into the dark alley” of her children’s minds.  It sounds a bit weird out of context, but trust me, its not!

In recent times, I’ve been thinking about my place as the youngest in my family and how, on reflection, I’ve realised that my immediate family’s strong point was not to allow my artistic sensibilities/emotional sensitivity the space I needed it to have.

A quick example… At the age of about 9, or maybe younger, my grandmother moved out of the house my mum had grown up in and that had a significant place in my young heart.  A fleeting moment on the stairs with my eldest sister: “Where will all the memories go?” I said (and can still feel the wistfulness with which I spoke), “Don’t be ridiculous” she replied “The memories will go with us!”  She was right, but…

There’s something about that original blogpost which helped me see that the “sticky plaster” of such a quick response to my inner world was indicative of a whole way of interacting that was teaching me to keep the doors closed, rather than inviting me to throw back the bolts and fling wide what God had given me to bring to his world.  It taught me that those intimate stirrings of my imagination and empathy were not welcome and perhaps even Bad.  And I did NOT want to be Bad.

Furthermore, when the intimate imaginings concerned are fears, like in the blog, a failure to “walk alongside” in that dark alley only reinforces that the alley must be walked alone and that it really is to be feared.

***

Someone I respect and trust recently suggested that I may need to consider the role fear is playing in my life.  I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘fearful person’, and I’m not sure I am in the way that I usually understand that phrase, plus I’m not currently in a situation that I consider “normal” on which to judge that.  But what I DO know is that I often talk about my fears; the words “I’m scared that…” are often on my lips.  Whether they are on my lips more than on your average person’s lips is hard to tell.

All I know is that when I outwardly express the fears that exist in the inner world of my imagination, I am not looking for quick-fix “Oh don’t be silly, of course not, it’ll all be fine”.  Partly because sometimes in this broken world, our fears are well-founded and sometimes will come to pass despite all efforts to live the fairytale ever after.  But mostly because I want some company in the alley.  I want someone to hold my hand as I look the beast in the eye, to consider its heights and depths with me and to enter my world and say “I understand”.

Then we can talk about the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ and ‘probably nots’.

It takes time and effort to do this, you see.  Its rarely our first inclination.  Especially when it comes to fears or suffering – we can be pretty quick off the mark with the spiritual sticky-plaster platitudes.  Consider for one moment, however, an eternal God taking the time and effort to grow through nine months of incubation, babyhood, infancy, puberty and so on in order to illustrate – in full-colour, high-definition, flesh and blood visuals – a firmly resounding “I understand”.

Wow.

 

And I think a little bit of Brian would not go amiss here.

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Reflections on Corporate Worship

Corporate worship is not only the crux/cornerstone of what we DO as the Church, but of who we ARE as the Church.

If this is the case, why are so many people dissatisfied with what that looks like in practice; some to the point of abandoning ‘going to church’?  How have those who officiate church services gone wrong?  How have those who attend (or used to attend) church services gone wrong?

Church History according to Me in my Small Corner

“Church” was fairly simple to begin with, just sort of hanging out and enjoying it.

A while later, some world leader guy converts to Christianity (apparently for fairly ambiguous reasons) and decides everyone should join him.  I’m guessing there’s some sort of link here to how the church became a little bit more like the church that was kind of early, but without being the Early Church?

So the Not-so-Early-but-still-earlier-than-now-Church, all used to be in a language only the clergy understood, so some guy caused a bit of a stir until eventually the bible etc were beginning to be in the vernacular and things got a bit better.

No, I don’t mean Eugene Peterson.  But he did a pretty good job too, à mon avisRob “WHAP” Lacey, not so much.  And I don’t know if its fair to say, but some people might be taking it too far.

Don’t tell Ballymoney I said that.

Then for a while, lots of people decided that they didn’t particularly like the way things were being done, for lots of different reasons and so went off and did it the way they liked.

Fair enough?

Some thought things were too fancy, some thought things were too dull, some thought things were too emotional, some thought things were too intellectual.

Recent History according to MIMSC

More recently (à mon avis), people thought things weren’t friendly enough and so started a movement of church services more geared to ‘fellowship’ and making sure people were included and words like ‘missional’ and ‘integral’ began to emerge as part of the vernacular.  Except that in defining themselves in these ways means that people’s expectations of being welcomed and befriended are raised waaaaay high to the point where they’re just all the more disappointed when they feel excluded/undervalued etc.

Increasingly, churches are shaping their corporate worship around the desires/preferences/felt needs of those who attend.

Increasingly, people are walking away from corporate worship.

These are statements, not critiques.

My question is that if my opening statement is true, where do YOU think our corporate worship is failing to be a true expression of who we are as the body of Christ in the world?

Discuss…?

Once you’re done discussing, you can research the first Christian Church Meeting (unless you’re of a sensitive disposition).

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For the record…

My small corner will relatively soon be hitting the recording studio in Paris (dahling!), and thus needs help working out how the flip to choose what songs to put on the forthcoming album (ha!).

Ok, mus-os… What makes a good choice of songs for an album?  Is it the lyrics?  The tunes?  A running theme?  Diversity?  If you were doing an album, how would you choose???

Help!

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Amen and amen.

A response to John Piper’s recent nonsense about God’s intention for Christianity to “have a masculine feel”

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2012/03/05/femsculine-christianity/

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Celebrate good (or not so good) times, come on.

The Jews were a celebrating-y kind of people.  Its seems that every few weeks they’d some sort of knees up, or at least some sort of special meal to commemorate something.

There’s something appealing about this kind of ritual celebration.  They were often commemorating important events that were HARD, not just good things – but even this sense of marking the past has a significant place in the present, giving weight and depth to what has gone before, what will come around next year, placing the present firmly in the context of the greater story.

I’ve been struck recently of the need for this perspective, for the need to allow room for the greater story to alleviate the drama of the immediate story.  The deep, rhythmic breathing of the years to soothe the sprinting hearts of the days : He was faithful, He is faithful, He will be faithful.

Who was, and is, and is to come.

Immanuel.

Roll on 30th birthday, roll on.  Let’s party like its 1981.

 

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Happy Birthday to Meinmysmallcorner

I’ve just realised that my blog turned 2.

Aww, bless.  Hope you’ve enjoyed it so far – and here’s to many more.

Birthday_candles

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What’s in a name…?

Faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of these is love.

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Continuous suffering?

So, Mr Darrell Johnson, in some lectures on John’s gospel, says that the resurrected Jesus continues to suffer.  Not only that Jesus suffered in death, but that he chooses to continue to suffer with us.  Like, here.  And now.

Perhaps I’m just slow, but I never, ever thought about it like that.  To the point where I’m like: “Is that right?”.  I mean, in some way I think I’ve always held that Jesus entered into our suffering, that he understands because he took on flesh etc and that therefore he can ‘sympathise with our weaknesses’ and all that.  But that he always did that from a place of shalom/wholeness/peace/it-is-finished-ness.  Not so much detached, but kind of distant.

But if Jesus still suffers as he chooses to continue to sympathise with our weakness etc, then that feels like a whole other kettle of fish.  It seems much closer to home, much closer to heart.  Its like, although he has gone through the pain of everything the cross signifies, through death and has experienced the joy of resurrection, the work is finished but the suffering isn’t over yet?  Its unbelieveable that after all that, Christ should choose to keep entering into our pain.

Maybe I really am ridiculously slow.  I mean, I have spoken of how God’s heart breaks over sin and suffering, but never really thought of that as HIS suffering.  Or just never felt it as close as this.

Well, Mr Johnson – are you right?  And if you’re right, what happens?  When does it stop?

Maybe he’s a heretic, or maybe I’m displaying my lack of understanding, but at least he said it first (!).  Can anyone else shed any light…?

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Happiness is NOT…

A parking ticket.

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“I am a Calvinist”

I have, of late, been somewhat pleased with myself at a dodgy pun… In the way that ‘racists’ are against other races, I wondered if true ‘Calvinists’ are against those who say “I am a Calvinist” in everyday conversation.

Not really very smart, nor particularly clear, nor funny etc etc.

But anyway, it serves to illustrate the fact that I have recently struggled to feel anything other than negativity and suspicion towards someone who would thus declare loud and proud (I even heard it in French: “Je suis Calviniste”).

Now, when I think about it with my cynicism switch flicked off, I recognise that I really don’t know enough about Calvinism to come to a complete and final decision on it all; plus I’m told that what people claim as Calvinism isn’t really very similar to Calvin’s works…. However, my general experience of those who hold to all this has been… less than enjoyable and I’ve been… less than gracious about it all.

ANYWAY.  Talking to a girl last night and a conversation with one of those ”I-am-a-Calvinist” people last week, I’ve had a slight change of heart.  Not about the whole issue, just about not being so quick to judge people in it all.  See, I’ve realised that for some people, they grew up in great fear and floundering – feeling the meaninglessness and randomnidity of life.  They felt lost, unloved, insignificant…

Then they discover that God is sovereign.  The freedom, joy and reassurance floods in: someone cares, someone understands, someone has a plan…  I can understand why this might be something with which they might want to identify themselves, something that they would want to fight for and something to revel in.

So… I’m going to be slower to judge in future.

Or at least TRY…

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