Monday, 11 May 2009

Schism or get off the pot.

A woman turns up at the crematorium for the committal of her deceased parishioner. Nobody else is there, but she says the words anyway, and works out the details later.

A man searches for a job where his inclusive and liberal attitude will be welcome. Meanwhile he makes time and space for an online community where the marginalised are accepted as they are, right down to getting told off if they behave badly toward one another.

A woman, childless and recently bereaved, wonders what to say in a sermon on Mother's Day. She isn't worried about what people will think of her, but about how best to nurture and support those in her care.

A man struggles with administrative barriers to ordination. He keeps preaching the Gospel anyway.

A woman relives the violent, horrible abuse of her past and tries to figure out how best to go forward in this life.

A man pays a month of rent for a friend who has been ill and won't be able to ever pay it back. He's unemployed himself.

A woman dealing with a serious health scare and a gruelling search for right employment spares a kind word and points at a useful resource for an online acquaintance feeling nervous about far less serious problems.

A man bends, then breaks, institutional rules in order to make sure a disabled student gets the support she needs.

A woman spends the day on the phone asking for funds to pay the debt of a stranger she has never met.

A man directs a choir singing Evensong; despite having been informed by the police during the preceding week that his son has been found dead, he offers what he can.

A woman organises and leads ten days of prayer for a friend undergoing heart surgery.

A man tracks down the family of a formerly homeless person who has lost touch with all kin. A reunion looks possible.

A teacher wonders how best to support a family running low on cash and hope.

A child offers an apple to a friend who didn't get enough for breakfast.

A woman sings and prays, because there doesn't seem to be any other sane response to the world.

If you must, go ahead and waste your time and energy and money trying to legislate who is a member of your church and who is not.

Dither away. The rest of us have work to do.

27 comments:

8thdayplanner said...

I am standing and cheering. Bravo.

Ostrich said...

Thank you for putting that together, it's one of the most inspirational accounts of the work of the Church that I have ever read. And within each story there is resurrection hope and the kingdom of God is upon us. And just in case you need someone to point it out, yours is the prophetic role.

it's margaret said...

Amen. (I'm singing that 'amen' nine times over!)

MarkBrunson said...

LOL.

Yes, we are very much in agreement! As usual, you stated yours with far less bitterness and far more grace!

Arkady said...

Very much in agreement.

Kathryn said...

So glad I read that before going for my walk...Blessings on you, Song...and thank God for your clarity of vision.

Erika Baker said...

That had me in tears. Thank you.

motheramelia said...

Right on. Thank you.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Song, what a lovely post. Thank you.

pplfichi said...

Well, yes. And very well said! :)

Sadly though, I can't see the issue going away any time soon.

susan s. said...

What everyone else said much better than I could.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

...and that is just a typical day in the neighborhood at Maddie's place, a place that the "orthodox" think, at best, is "unbiblical."

Anonymous said...

THAT is the Church I know, a disorganized community of faithful people responding to all of life, good and bad, and exemplifying divine compassion. That is the Church I care about, the one I believe the gates of hell will not prevail against.

Paul the BB

Song in my Heart said...

Many thanks to all of you for reading and for your supportive comments.

Ostrich:
"...one of the most inspirational accounts of the work of the Church that I have ever read."

That's high praise coming from someone who posts so much that is inspirational and beautiful.

Kathryn: I thank God every day, though I think perhaps you and others see more clarity than I do in my words.

Pplfichi:
"I can't see the issue going away any time soon."

It won't go away soon, but it won't matter, because what we humans designate the church is not something God is bound to recognise as the church. It isn't a building, it isn't a steeple, it isn't a resting place, it's made out of people, as the childhood rhyme goes. And no amount of institutional my-orthodoxy-can-piss-higher-than-yours ego contest line-drawing will change that, even if the people who engage in it think it will. That doesn't mean there aren't practical and human concerns. That doesn't mean the current division isn't unfortunate, tragic, and causing some very real harm and pain. But it does not have the ultimate significance that some people would attach to it; not compared to the actions of any one of the people I mentioned in this post.

Kirkepiscatoid: I wasn't thinking only of Maddie's place. Some of the people I mentioned here almost certainly haven't even heard of his blog. But his place is one example, among many, of the good that can be done in the world.

Two Auntees said...

Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful! And soooooo true.

Muthah+ said...

Preach it! That is what the Church is supposed to be!

Lois Keen said...

Dear Song,

I would like to use our post as the focus of the sermon this coming Sunday. I hope you don't mind.
Lois

ginny s. said...

Oh, YEEESSS! What a wonderful post; thank you. I wish this could be heard by the ABC and everyone in the upper reaches of the churches. And from many pulpits as well. Great idea, Lois.

FranIAm said...

Brilliant brilliant brilliant!

Ellie Finlay said...

Wow. Just absolutely wow.

This is magnificent.

MarkBrunson said...

Absolutely!

You were right, we are in agreement, just (LOL) you put it with much less bitterness and much more grace!

Song in my Heart said...

How lovely to wake up to more positive comments from people I respect. Wow.

Lois, please feel free to use it as the basis for a sermon; I am honoured. Thank you for letting me know.

Tracie the Red said...

Oh bloody hell. I just HAD to read this at work, and now I'm about to blub like a girlie (to borrow an MP phrase).

World's greatest blog post in the history of the Internet.

Song in my Heart said...

Thank you Tracie. But please don't blub too much at work, I'd like you to keep that job of yours!

Jane R said...

Thank you, Song. Beautifully and accurately put. It's an honor to be in this community with you.

Robyn Coffman said...

Simply beautiful. Thank you for adding light to my day.

Song in my Heart said...

Thank you both for reading and commenting, Robyn and Jane.