“Every marriage is different, but all marriages experience ups and downs – there’s the romantic times when the sun seems to be always shining, and the tough times when winter seems to have set in for good. We want to support you in your relationship whether you are preparing to get married or have been …”
As I was very tired from my night out I decided to go to our town’s poshest church rather than make the trip to my own church this evening.
Very beautiful surroundings and wonderful choir, good sermon, but strange to be there.
This posh church’s ethos is extremely liberal – which is my 1970’s upbringing background. It’s all gay vicars and seminars on transgender issues. But the hierarchical nature of the service, the Us and Them aspect (congregation v clergy), the formality, is now alien to me, yet this is what I grew up with.
At my usual church services anyone can pray out loud, singing is done by all of us and we sing a LOT! Sermons, a.k.a. the message, are chatty, funny, moving. But gay vicars are a big no-no. It’s a fundamental church, in effect, though with kindly pastoral care rather than punishing.
Sometimes trying new things can be a disappointment. But it does stretch you and also makes you appreciate what you have already.
Today’s new thing was to visit a friend/client at the house he and his wife have just bought and are doing up to rent out.
The wife, who is also a friend, is a Christian (the hubby isn’t). Turns out that she bought the student house in 1988 that I lived in during 1986/87. This is a small city!
The house has a view of the cathedral plus two other important, historical churches.
The cruelty of Facebook!
Beautiful people get even more validation of their good looks on Facebook. The people involved might not know that’s what is happening but I see that when very attractive people change their profile photo they get a flurry of ‘likes’!
One contact, a former model, gets tons of likes when she changes her pic (frequently). A young christian woman/girl I know got 55 ‘likes’ for her picture the other day! And I was one who contributed! How we flock to the beautiful. It’s natural for us to gravitate to that which is pleasing to the eye yet how sad as well, I feel, when it filters out others who may not have such symmetrical features.
My ex, no Plain Peter himself in the looks department, used to rant on about the tyranny of symmetrical faces. He had a point!
My church has just run a series of sermons called Church Matters. Pastor 3 asked for some feedback. I have sent mine to him privately.
I wrote (more or less):
“I am intrigued by the idea of church as family that has come up. Families can be great; I doubt there are many on this earth who don’t need family. Yet when Pastor 1 says, “We are family,” my barriers go up. I think, ‘Mmm. Are we? Really?’
I think church can be LIKE a family – in good ways and bad. The good ways are obvious: mutual support; shared sense of doing things for the good of the cause; unity; somewhere to turn to in good times and bad. But let’s not forget that families can be very dysfunctional places.
Also in families people are assigned roles. Sometimes those roles can box us in. People can get labelled… and that happens in church too. She’s the naughty one; he’s the dull one; she’s the arty one… etc. This type of ‘shorthand’ thinking can reduce people. In truth, we are all more complex than the roles assigned to us. Families have rules, often unspoken rules at that. These rules help the family to function but it also means that family members have to toe the line. Those who don’t do this feel the weight of displeasure from the others or may be ostracised.
Then there are the power games (vile). The gossip! And silliness! Even bullying. It can all get very messy.
Also one can feel alone in a family. This is why belonging to a Life Group is vital, IMHO. It is there that you do get to something approaching family.
To write about the “Love me, Love My Cardigan” syndrome, that befalls some Christians. It’s a harsh one but it’s a subject that has to be examined! The phrase was something coined, I think, by my friend A. You can substitute ‘cardigan’ for ‘sweater’, if you prefer!
Memorial Park Cemetery, Padiham, Lancashire, England. 1st August 2013. By Craig Simpson.
Simpson’s work just gets better and better. This is a full-focus version of the image that appears as part of the header to this blog on occasion. Marvellous.