Tuesday, 14 May 2013

What Happens in Church, Stays in Church

You will probably have noticed, if you have stuck with these annals of our little community for more than the three-week average, that I talk a lot about the things that happen in the worship gatherings - be they in the Orchard, in the Moot House or on Aspley Heath. But I've always been very careful not to share the deeper things that go on.

Should we ever see someone experience conversion, for example. I'm not quite clear on what it involves or what it might look like, but I'm sure that, like Michael Gove saying something sensible, we'll recognise it when we see it. But if we do, I won't tell you who the convertee is. Unless it has comedy potential, in which case I might have to.

No, it's a golden rule - "What happens in Church, Stays in Church." And we ensure that it is strictly enforced. So the other day I was struck by a reading from Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, to realise that - although Fanny Price is a drip, the apotheosis of 19th Century Woman-as-Passive-Doormat and all round source of evil, yet there is some point in her. Her humility is a great virtue. And so, in the confines of the Moot House, I resolved to conduct myself in a humble manner in future.

But "What happens in Church, Stays in Church." It's one thing to be humble up to the final blessing, but that's not gonna be much use later on, when I've got to sentence an erring Beaker Person to a paintball firing squad for eating cheese out of hours, is it? Or when, with the other members of the Beaker Druid Executive, we're voting on whether to increase our biscuit expense allowance in line with inflation or in line with the National Debt.

No. How we are changed spiritually is very important. We must learn to love the new challenges and insights we receive - to grow more fully as spiritual persons. We must learn to love our neighbours and want them to be spiritually blessed, as we are. But when we actually meet our neighbours, we don't want to start actually being kind to them, or helping them out. That would make us the most awful do-gooders. And we wouldn't want to go actually sharing the Good News with them - apart from anything else, what Good News would we share? Would make us sound ever so presumptuous, and we wouldn't like to imply that we know better. No, much better, when identifying someone else's burdens, to come home and pray for them to be lightened.

And again, when we heard the words "my tongue will be the pen of a ready writer" the other day - surely that is to be kept within the mysteries of the Moot House? Wasn't it our Lord that said, if you've got something you feel you ought to say, keep it in the closet? It's important that we tame the tongue. But clearly I'm not suggesting that, outside of the set hours and seasons, we can't use our divinely-given gifts of sarcasm and back-biting. That would be unnatural.

So, if you want to keep your religious experience clean, untainted by real life and above all convenient - "What happens in Church, Stays in Church."

1 comment :

  1. The trouble is that there's not that much happening in church to stay there.

    When you turn up for the main service of the Sabbath and the congregation consists of the Vicar, you and the organist, you've plenty of time to work out a rota for assisting, who will do welcome, who will do the readings and who will do the intercessions.

    It's not worth booting the organ so a tambourine is used. Than the peace is shattered at the 11 AM, by the cheers, loud music and gaiety from the Pub next door full of your prospective congregation!

    So, you cancel the service and all retire to join the congregation watching the foottie (or F1 race) on a huge wide screen and call it Fresh Expressions.


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