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Radical Fellowship

Last Wednesday was my last 'Archdeacon's Visitation' - the service at which churchwardens are 'admitted'. The Venerable Michael Everitt - a truly delightful man - took the service. His 'reflection' (a sort of sermon) was based on the following passage.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.Acts 2: 42-47 (NIV)

That passage is at one and the same time, both my favourite bible passage and the one which frustrates me the most. It paints an amazingly simple picture of the early days of the 'church' - but, at the same time, it is (to my 21st century eyes at least) incredibly radical. There is a tendency to 'gloss over' this passage and try to 'rationalise' our lack of any effort to follow in the footsteps of that early fellowship in all sorts of ways.

Piecing myself back together again

Or, rather, letting God put me back together again.

I know I'm forgiven. I know I'm loved. Over the years I've been slowly, painfully, learning to love and accept myself. The hardest bit of that is loving the broken, scarred, bits of my being. Those bits I don't love. Those bits I resent deeply. Without my experiences though, both good and bad, I wouldn't really be me. So, perhaps I need to learn to accept them as part of me. That's a big ask though.

Perhaps I need to learn to embrace them. That isn't to say that I ought to allow myself to wallow in misery. Nor does it mean that I am 'giving up' and accepting defeat or settling for second best. It's just that I have reached a new depth of realisation that God and others love me as I am, warts, scars, and all; that some things in my life - some of the scars - won't be healed in this life - that's part of being a fallen (but redeemed) creature living in a fallen world. Perfection will come, but not until the Lord returns or calls me home.

Death is Wrong

This could also be entitled 'Starting to piece myself back together again'.

Sorry to keep banging on about it, but as you may have gathered from earlier posts, this past couple of years have 'had their moments'. Life has been far from easy. It has felt as though I have kept being knocked down and getting up, only to be knocked down again.

Rinse and repeat.

There have been lots of conflicting emotions rattling around inside me. I have felt really down a lot of the time. That isn't new; I've been there before; it's an old feeling which lurks in the shadows waiting until I am weak; it likes to take up residence in the dark, broken, corners of my being and rob me of joy. It's not staying. I’ve never let it stay before - with God's help I always fight back against it sooner or later. The culmination of this period of 'bumping along the bottom', has been the spate of deaths, and the resulting grief.

It struck me the other day that we're not designed for death.

How so? Surely everyone dies? you say.

Roman Roads

The traditional view of Roman roads is that they proceed in straight lines, and that they change direction at the crests of hills. Actually, there are probably more exceptions to that rule than one might care to list, but the principle isn't a bad one. It's also appropriate for what I want to say. Here, to illustrate the 'traditional' point is a photo of a section of Roman road in the Bowland Fells near here.

DSCF6557

Recently, we held a Christian conference here in Lancaster. It was called 'New Wine Local: Landmark' (or something like that). It proved, as the name suggests, to be a 'landmark' in many people's lives.

I was part of the team running the event, though my role didn't prove too onerous - I just had to monitor health and safety in one of the buildings. It meant long days, but also allowed me to take part in most of the sessions - though it was a little odd trying to listen to the speaker with one ear whilst monitoring the radio net for 'safety-related' messages with the other!

I'm not a huge fan of being preached at, and I realised during the weekend that what I really enjoy about the 'New Wine experience' was missing: camping together. There's something about camping with a bunch of close friends which really takes some beating! I did make new friends though, which was very nice. I didn't really engage very well with the teaching to begin with, until Marcus (one of the aforementioned new friends) prayed for me at the end of one of the sessions on Saturday. After that, things changed, and I began to engage with the talks and the ministry more fully.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2016