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In Times of Trouble...

The past couple of weeks have not been easy. Pretty stressful in fact. Life is very, very, busy, and I haven't been feeling as though I've been coping very well - forgetting to do things I ought to have done, and not managing to find the time even for some of the basics. And my father (86) has been ill - so ill in fact, that we thought the end might be near; but thanks to antibiotics (and prayer!), he seems to be on the mend again.

I consider myself very blessed to have so many friends, both those with whom I share a common faith, and those I don't. Of those with whom I do share a faith, my house-group are particularly special. A house-group (or home-group, or cell-group), for the uninitiated, is a small group of Christians who meet regularly to pray, to worship, to study and to support one another, through good times and bad. The group I belong to are very good to me - they know that my role can be quite stressful; they are very gentle and supportive and demand nothing of me in return. This week, the leaders of our group, Nic and Em, had decided that we should have a 'meditative' evening - turn up quietly, in an attitude of prayer, and spend some time in quiet reflection.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of those terribly difficult things in Christianity. Old Testament theology, and the concept of 'like for like' punishment seems fair to us…

But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.Exodus 21:23-25 (NIV).

Many systems of justice have been based on this principle, and still are, including in countries whose laws are, at least notionally, Christian. But I posit that they are not actually Christian (which implies a New Testament 'take' on justice), but 'Old Covenant' - based on the Law of Moses.

Christians are asked to walk a harder road - one which seems counter-intuitive to us humans. Somehow we seem to expect 'eye for eye' justice - as a sort of vengeance as much as anything. I often think to myself when someone is interviewed on the TV news, following a crime, and they say 'we want justice', that actually what they want is revenge - they want the offender to suffer at least as much as the person they injured.

Being Churchwarden

Recently we (Jon-the-vicar, Craig-the-curate, Sandie and I - i.e. the clergy and churchwardens), have been looking for a replacement for Sandie, whose six-year maximum term of office comes up this spring. The process has made me think quite hard about the job, what I do and don't like about it and why.

A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with Meriel Cumming, and something I said started with "When I stop being churchwarden…" which she interrupted with a very forceful "Don't stop!" That surprised me, to be honest. Most of the time I quite enjoy being churchwarden. It's pretty 'full-on', and can be stressful, though there are a lot of positive things about it. But I wouldn't have said I was good at it - administration (which makes up a lot of the traditional churchwarden's role) isn't really my strong suit, and I don't 'do' meetings particularly well…

As an introvert, it usually takes me some time to 'marshall my thoughts' to formulate an answer to a question. Often that means that I haven't managed to formulate my response to an issue until after the meeting - which is a bit awkward! Fortunately Jon knows that, if I've got a strong opinion, it'll follow later in an email - and he doesn't seem to mind too much!

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2016