Not so enraptured

Dear Village,

Among the many roles I’ve played over the years is that of Chaplain. I worked for a few years at a local hospital visiting with patients of all ages. I remember that there were days when the visits were really rewarding, but like anything else there were also days when it was really hard work.

I remember on one occasion taking time to sit with someone who had just suffered a heart attack. They spent quite some time telling me about their life, how they had liked to party in their early days, then how they had met their spouse, and then what it was like for them to meet Jesus. In many ways it could have been my own story, and I felt a sense of connection with them.

EndOfTheWorldThen they started talking about their beliefs. How they believed that the rapture was coming and Jesus would leave ‘the ungodly’ behind to suffer for their sins. How life would come to those who believed, and death to those who did not. They talked about a God of love that was not only capable of hating, but in their opinion was going to soon destroy the world and only save a select few. I remember that my sense of empathy shifted and I felt that despite our common encounters with Jesus we had little in common. I felt that sense of loss when you realize that, despite all evidence to the contrary, you are alone in a room.

How can someone meet Jesus and then become a slave to dogma or religious tradition? How can someone lose their freedom so easily? Meeting Jesus gave me a sense of freedom that I have never lost, an understanding that whatever choices I made, and regardless of what life threw at me, that I was in the hands of someone who could sort it. My salvation was assured and I could simply get on with my life and live it. Extraordinary freedom! Why would someone give that away?

I suppose it’s very human to want certainties. Perhaps the security of a religious construct that can make Jesus less personal also makes us feel ‘safer’. After all, if we accept the invitation to relationship with Jesus then it’s likely to be a wild ride. The problem with relationships are that you never know what’s coming next, or where you’ll both end up. Every relationship is different, and so no two journeys are quite alike. It’s ironic that religion quite often smothers the fire, keeps it ‘banked’, when it should fuel it.. It defines Jesus, and us, and the relationship we’re ‘supposed’ to have, and we lose the spontaneity and unpredictability. We trade the uncertainties of freedom and faith for the certainty of a belief and a feeling of security.

Jesus said “I came to give you life in abundance”. and the story of Easter is a reminder of how far God is willing to go to make that happen. Our job is to accept that gift, live our life, and as ‘church’ respond as a community by serving the community.

Each week I write this blog. Some of it you’ll probably agree with, and some of it you won’t. I’m fine either way, although if something touches you deeply, or upsets you grievously, please let me know. I would like to add prayers, volunteer opportunities, and news, so if there’s any information you’d like me to pass on then also please let me know.

I pray you have a blessed week and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Michael

PRAYERS

Please pray for Wendy Foster’s nephew Tom, and her sister in law, Tracy. Tom is gravely ill, facing aggressive chemo therapy and an amputation. Tom has lost three close friends to cancer this year alone, and at only 22 years old is facing a very difficult diagnosis.

Please pray for Steve’s mother who is very ill. especially that the hospital staff will understand and meet her needs.

Wendy Burgess remains very poorly, please pray for a recovery.

Elaine has had a hip replaced, we pray for a speedy recovery and manageable discomfort.

Among us some are suffering with depression, the effects of HIV, Cancer, and other debilitating illnesses. Sometimes the side effects of medications feel as bad as the illness itself. All of us need healing, for ourselves or someone that we love. I pray that God’s Grace meet us in that need and minister to us.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

Saturday April 25th 1pm – 5:30pm. Help the Terrence Higgins Trust volunteers clean up Dukes Mound. This isn’t glamorous work but it is essential. It’s a great way to really make a difference. Come at 1pm and stay as short or long a time as you like. All the cleaning equipment (Gloves, sticks, bags, etc.) are supplied – as are refreshments.

Friday June 12th – Sunday June 14th. Hand in Hand, a huge LGBT choir gathering in Brighton. If you’re not actually a part of a choir and singing in this event, (and I know that many of us are), then please consider taking a little time out to volunteer. I’d like for us to be able to offer a group of Village MCC volunteers, I just need to know from you if you’re willing to give an hour or two over the weekend. If a few of us are able to volunteer then I’ll register The Village MCC with the group and then you’ll be able to choose what time you’d like to give and the kind of service you can offer. Just let me know – as soon as possible please.

Treasurer: Ann very kindly volunteered to serve on the board of trustees and keep basic accounts for the church. However, Ann is the first to confess that accounts are far from her forte’ and The Village really needs someone to help her out. If you are able to help then please let either Ann or I know.

Sound team: whether it’s helping to choose music for our worship, operating a tablet pc to play music, or playing a musical instrument, we need your help.

Would you like to host a social event? A beach party, a bowls tournament, a garden party, a chili-fest, a craft event, whatever takes your fancy there are others that would love the chance to join you! Just let either myself or one of the other event team members know. (Members are Jaz, Simon, and Ann).

NEWS

Older and Out is this Friday 10th April 1pm -3pm at Somerset Day Centre. There are two talks at this event:- Ginette will be talking about her experiences at Greenham Common and the women she met there and how it changed all their lives. Explaining the reasons why she first went to Greenham and her feelings about it at the time. She will be reading short extracts from her book re various actions at the camp. The second talk will be given by Jaqui Cutter on the local police and how they support the LGBT Community in Brighton and Hove. All welcome!

Thank you to Mary for a fabulous Palm Sunday experience. I’ve heard some great comments and a number of folks have said that it was a lovely way to begin the Easter week journey. Thank you to everyone who helped Easter week itself, with the Seder, the Walk of Witness, the early morning service with One Church and our own Easter Sunday celebration.

Did you know that there are now 30 of us that attend The Village MCC? Some come every week, and others come once a month or so. On average there are 15 of us that gather each week, and we’re growing. If you have any suggestions as to how we can do things better then please let me know. Together we are church, so it’s understandable that as we grow we change. What is important to you? What kind of ministry would you like to be involved in? Do you have hymns you’d like included?

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