There was a point, yesterday evening, when I seriously thought
I might not be able to get home... I was on my way back from
General Synod, when the weather conspired to make it very difficult.
There were trees blown down, power outages and flooding getting
ever worse, and with winds hitting 100 miles an hour and over,
I cannot blame Virgin for deciding not to run any trains! But
when one is standing on Euston Station, conscious of two dogs
waiting hopefully and my house sitter expecting to get back to
his home, rational thought begins to disappear and panic sets
Justin had commented a few hours earlier, "Perfect love
casts out fear. We know it although we don't often apply it.
We mostly know that perfect fear casts out love."
Now he was
speaking about the church and the way in which we tear each other
apart all too often, because we seek to define other people -
who maybe hold a different opinion or interpretation of scripture
to ourselves - as our enemy, rather than focusing on the much
greater part of what we agree. He also spoke of the imperative
on the church to model a different way of dealing with our differences;
that there can be such a thing as 'good disagreement'. We can
learn to listen - really listen - to those who hold passionately
a point of view that is different. This won't necessarily lead
to tidy, neat solutions ... In fact it will be untidy, messy
and at times incoherent - just like human beings. But we are
not created to all think the same, share the same beliefs, like
the same things.... God seems to value our diversity, and challenges
us to find a way of living with that tension in a way that is
creative and life affirming. Sadly often our way of coping is
to try and stifle all opposition rather than celebrating and
glorying in our differences.
Justin also said the following. "We have to find a way forward
that is one of holiness and obedience to the call of God and
enables us to fulfil our purposes. This cannot be done through
fear. How we go forward matters deeply, as does where we arrive."
Well I arrived
back in Pattingham - in fact even earlier than had been planned!
So whether it is trying to steer a huge and unwieldy institution
like the Church, or just getting home when the storm is raging,
we can work together to overcome fear and work practically for
the common good...
Thanks be to God!