I’ve been doing some thinking again in the last few days, about how I view the bible. I’m sure I have blogged about this before, but once again I’m reminded how much I value people who take trying to understand it seriously. For me, it’s not about coming to the “right” or even the same conclusions, it’s about how we view it that matters. If you have thought and prayed about it that is the important thing to me. Thinking about who it was written for and when it is written, helps to give us a glimpse into the meanings of different parts of the bible. How we treat the bible, says a lot about how we view God. If we take trying to understanding the bible seriously, we take God seriously. We will never understand him, but we can begin to glimpse a little of him. Within the bible we see so many different facets to God. Seeing others come to different conclusions but taking getting their seriously reminds me off the variety of Christians, and makes me look forward to heaven, where we will get to enjoy the variety that comes from these different views but without the mis-understandings that we have now. In the mean time, I will enjoy being reminded of the mystery that is God, and the diversity of his people.
Today has mainly been a day of study, but I also made a cheesecake ready for lunch tomorrow. This was a stressful experience, as it was the first time that I have used gelatine leaves. We shall find out tomorrow how it tastes!
I left the building! I went to church, I walked one way and got a lift the other. It’s only about a 5 minute walk usually, but was further than I’ve managed since I hurt my foot, so am pleased that I am making progress.
I know that the following rant is partly my own fault for choosing to go to a church that is significantly more conservative than me. Usually it is fine, and I feel that for various reasons it is the right place to be, but today I just got annoyed! Reading the bible through a modern world lens, is not automatically right, and post-modern lens wrong. The bible was written in a pre-modern world, and when looking at it we should remember that and start there, then see how that helps us understand it, whether that is in a modern or postmodern way of thinking. Whenever we look at the bible we automatically place a lens over it, like a colour filter that means that we can see somethings clearly and other things not. These lens are slightly different for all of us, and will be influenced by many factors. We need to remember that we all put these lens on, and that it is only as we except this and share with others what we are seeing that we begin to see more of the picture.
“They found, like many explorers before them, that somehow, in their absence, they had got into trouble at home.” This quote set me thinking, it’s not even vaguely about the church but feels like it could be. Often those who are brave enough to go into the unknown, to explore and experience new things, and not to just stay where they are comfortable, get to experience new, exciting and potentially scary thinks about their faith, but if they return to share their experiences, they often find, that even before they start to share what they have experienced, that others aren’t listening because they are already in trouble for exploring.
The last two years I have, for want of a better word reviewed things that I have done for the previous year which I am glad to have done. (See posts here and here.) It’s a year since the last one so I’m looking back over the previous year. While reflecting the main thing I realised is that I am happier with who I am as a person. Life in the last year has definitely not worked out how I wanted it to, but I have far less regrets than I have in previous years. I think this is in part due to seeing the positive in what I have, and partly due to not being scared to push doors/ say what I think, so I’m not looking back wishing I had done things differently. I guess I know I did what I could to get the outcome I wanted, which I find makes it easier to accept the way life is.
The following is a selection of things from the last year that I am grateful for.
1) Completeing my second NanoWrimo novel
2) Having the opportunity to learn that I don’t like snow as much as I thought I did!
3) Wonderful friends
4) Completing Script Frenzy
6) “Sunrise” on the beach on the longest day of the year.
7) MacDonalds breakfast with 2 wonderful teenagers, 3 wonderful grown-ups and 3 delightful children. (We use to take the teenagers when they were little.)
8) Special children in my world
9) Finding a church that I love going to (something that I never thought would happen)
10) Twitter (surfing_madness)
11) Remembering my knitting skills
12) Learning to crochet
13) Being given the guardian for the 3 weeks of the tour de France.
14) Completing my post-graduate certificate
15) Getting a place to study Social Work
16) Finding a bible study/ house group which I feel comfortable in.
17) Heritage open day
18) My brother and sister-in-law.
19) My Dad’s randomness
As long term readers of this blog will be aware I have an “interesting” relationship with church, having only recently for the first time started to look forward to church on a consistent basis. In church this morning I started to think about what it is about where I go at the moment that makes me love it, and what I should therefore look for when I move. Previously I might have talked about service styles, the music, what activities there were. Now however I can see what I appreciate, there is a feeling, especially in the prayers, of hope missed with reality. It’s not about praying that God will wave his magic wand and magically fix everything. Instead it is about praying to a God who will be there in the situation, will see the forgotten ones and stand with them in the pain, and hurt. The sermons I also appreciate, instead of feeling like it’s about making sure that all hear the gospel every week, it’s about treating us as grown ups, and helping us to think how we take steps in our faith, how it impacts on what we do. Not sure what I’ll find in the future but I want to hang on to that faith and the real world not being in conflict, but faith being what gets us through real life.
Again amazed at actually wanting to go to church this morning, ok still a fight to brave the cold, but I did it!! Yet again I was struck by how calming I find the prayers at the church I am going to at the moment. Coming from a tradition where prayers seem more “off the cuff” I am really enjoying the thought thoroughness of them. Each week different things are prayed for in a way that gives dignity to all, and acknowledges that there are no easy answers. Prayer comes across not as a magic wand to fix everything, but as a way of giving dignity and respect to those in different and difficult situations. There is an acknowledgement that yes God can change situations, but more than that we are asking for the strength to cope in the situation. It is very refreshing, it gives hope, but without pinning God into the corner where we end up with the question, why didn’t God answer. I have definitely found the prayers to be a source of healing and comfort to me.
In other news I am trying to work out what to say to a friend to which I really want to say “you stupid girl, did you think this through at all? What are you playing at?” But where I will have to at least seem pleased, even though I can see that there is a lot wrong with the situation, will have to try and find some tack, not my best skill!!
Some of you may have been following the Tour de France. I have been following it avidly this year, I’ve been a fan since I was about 10, but some years I follow it more than others. I am again amazed at what they go through to finish. The number who while they may (but only may) drop out of the tour over all, will finish the stage before going to the hospital with broken bones. The team work is also great to watch (and not just within a team but within a brake away or chase group who want the same ends although they are from different teams.) Many of the team are unsung heroes, who are never going to be in the paper but are vital. Would you want to be the team member who collects water bottles and distributes them among the team? They take it in turn to set the pace so that all will go faster but will share the work load. Often one of the team will “lead out” whoever the team want to win the stage, meaning that someone else can reach there full potential while they themselves won’t get the glory.
This has set me thinking about what we can learn from this. As some of you will know I am re-thinking what ‘church’ should look like for me. Maybe there are things we can learn from the tour de France. Maybe Church should be about working together so we can all “go faster”, or maybe we should see it as grow in our faith as we share our experience and insights. Sometimes like the person who collects the water, we need someone who is willing to sacrifice to provide us with what we need. We all need to learn to be the “lead out” person, that person who will put in the effort to help someone else reach there full potential without getting the glory, are we willing to do that for others? Do we know people who will do that for us? Also are we willing to keep going when we are injured, but also those who are injured can keep going because of there team. Within the Tour de France there are moments of glory, moments of very hard work, but mainly it’s just slogging away to make it through, with the help of those around them, I guess that sums up how i feel about life at the moment. It’s just a case of making sure that I have the right team mates to make it through the race, whatever may happen during that race.
Having read this blog, and due to some extent to life I was reflecting on how the bible can be used. How it can be used to say look I can prove that x or y is right and what we should be doing or not doing. Instead of looking at the big picture we see within the bible. So often we don’t look at the big picture and see a God motivated by love, a God that is too big for us to understand, but a God who engages with people where they are. Instead we say look this verse say’s x, therefor we must do what it says, no matter who gets hurt, how crazy it is, we must follow it blindly and not use our brains. Then when people say hang on a minute that’s crazy, that’s hurting people, we make then feel guilty, we make them feel that they have to make a choice, accept that being hurt is part of the deal or walk away. Why can’t there be a discussion, a way to think like grown ups and not continue the hurt?
“Poverty reduction is good, but social inclusion is better, giving weight to participation, citizenship, voice and justice” is a quote from my text book i am reading at the moment, and it set me thinking. It’s about seeing the big picture. There is nothing wrong with the small picture, it’s just the big picture is better. We are quiet often like this within church. (Well at least within the evangelical/ charasmatic/ how ever you like to define it sub-set of church) Maybe we should say, Forgiveness of sins is good, but relationship with God, and others is better, leading to understanding, justice, freedom, and valuing all.