It takes two things for prayer to come to pass – a person and a word. Prayer involves right relationship between those two things. But we have lost that relationship. Involved as we are in many relationships, our relationship to words has become totally obscured. We do not think about words, although few things are as important for the life of the spirit as the right relationship to words. Words have become cliches, objects of absolute abuse. They have ceased to be commitments.
Abraham Joshua Heschel (from inward/outward)
This quote really made me think. Is Heschel right? Almost certainly if you read the newspapers (in print or worse online where people can leave vitriolic comments on the stories of the day) or look at the ‘wealth’ of celebrity or fashion based magazines on the shelves of any newsagents.
We no longer craft letters, we rush off slipshod emails or make throw away comments on social networking sites, not worrying about grammar or spelling.
And in our personal relationships – do we actually talk to one another or are our conversations really ‘a dialogue of the deaf’?
We live in a world where words are cheap and plentiful.
Do we treat the words we speak to God – and the words we speak about God – in the same way?
Answers on a postcard!!
(The Wordle contains the most commonly used words in English proverbs :))
I thought I would post this picture again. It challenges me on so many different levels.
None of us want to be responsible for emptying a church! But it is not enough just to keep it open either… simply to maintain what is for as long as we can. The challenge is to move forward.
I don’t like the “change” word much and I try to avoid telling my congregation that things have to change. I prefer to talk about transition… about moving from one thing to another.
We cannot go backwards and standing still is not a sustainable option because if we are just “keeping it open” we are effectively “keeping it empty” albeit not this week or even this year.
Your church may still be open and on the surface thriving, but given the current rate of decline in church attendance, and the age profile of your congregation, it will eventually be empty!
There is no quick fix solution, no easy answer (if you have one please let me know!) But it is a question of focus. Where is your focus? On maintenance ministry? Or on moving forward with the God who seeks to do a new thing with his Church and with his people?
Following closely on from this post earlier in the week … I loved this cartoon by Dave Walker.
So how was it for your congregation today? 🙂
“Faith is different from theology because theology is reasoned, systematic, and orderly, whereas faith is disorderly, intermittent, and full of surprises….
Faith is homesickness. Faith is a lump in the throat.
Faith is less a position on than a movement toward, less a sure thing than a hunch.
Faith is waiting.”
(Frederick Buechner )
(Picture is Coldingham Bay)
This made me smile today 🙂
And I post it for all who are beginning to think about their sermons for this coming Sunday!
Continuing on a poetry theme… I came across this by Brian Turner while I was blog hopping:
Once in a while
you may come across a place
seems as close to perfection
as you will ever need.
And striving to be faultless
the air on its knees
holds the trees apart,
yet nothing is categorically
thus, or that, and before the dusk
mellows and fails
the light is like honey
on the stems of tussock grass,
and the shadows are mauve birthmarks
on the hills.
These pictures were taken in the Lake District last October… a holiday when the weather was perfect all week 🙂
Today we head home from holiday suitably chilled. So – to mark the end – another poem and some more pictures:
I think over again my small adventures
those small ones that seemed so big
For all the vital things
I had to get and to reach
And yet there is only one great thing
the only thing
To live to see the great day that dawns
and the light that fills the world.
(Old Inuit Song quoted by inward/outward)