Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Highs and lows...

I often feel frustrated, and hemmed in by the need to compromise.
Great team effort...
I am chairman of the local Night Shelter Trust. The old house we were renting is up for sale so we decided to upgrade to rent another. The new house is two units and is around the corner from our old one. It has a total of 12 bedrooms, but we will just use the front one (five bedrooms) as a Night Shelter and sublet the back one.  It will allow us in the future to  expand our operation. Saturday was our big moving day. I was making phone calls during the week to make sure everything was OK, but discovered my fellow members of the trust board were keen and willing to do stuff to get the job done. On Saturday morning I had got up early to do some church work then get to the shelter in time to start the big move. An early phone call from the Trust treasurer came apologising because he was going to be late.... he had to do stuff down at his church. Then he told me that on the Friday afternoon some of the guys had already started moving. I was so pleased and impressed that I came off the phone and said to my wife, "We should start a new church with the Night Shelter Trust members. They really want to do stuff!" I was really rapt. I arrived at the shelter and we started moving stuff. I had to eat my words because three guys from my Church turned up and another was willing to loan me a trailer.  We had my three guys, my wife, available Trust board members, another two from a Presbyterian church, our manager and a couple of the night shelter volunteers. We borrowed a truck from the Salvation Army and we were all moved by lunch time. By mid afternoon we had the new place set up and ready to open for business that night. It was funny, people kept saying, "Isn't this great! What a great team effort!" One of my guys said today, "I enjoyed yesterday!" It was a really enjoyable day even though we were working hard. It wasn't till mid afternoon that I bought myself lunch. Today I was back there while one of our guys was trying to set up the broadband. I mucked around pottering and assisting him when called upon. I have to do some work at both places tomorrow and meet the real estate agent for the final inspection of the old place.  It is so much fun being part of a team like that. We used to sing a song at school; "Give me some men, who are stout hearted men, who will fight for the right they adore; start me with ten, who are stout hearted men, and I'll soon give you ten thousand more... Shoulder to shoulder, bolder and bolder... etc." Its that feeling of unity of purpose and the energy generated in the togetherness that I enjoy. These experiences are somehow part of the REAL stuff of life, treasured moments to relish.
"Family night"
We have these family nights at the Church every two months for people we encounter through Space2B. Last night we had a good group of people who came and shared food and conversation together. There were people from a variety of countries and I always find it interesting catching up on people, learning about their culture, their experiences and yet also discovering again that we are in essence brothers and sisters.   Why can't we discover this truth and live it more often?
Disturbed Church service
I had snatched time during the week to put together what I thought was a reasonable sermon and service. I presented it but about three quarters of the way through the service an elderly lady collapsed. We have a retired doctor as organist and he along with a lovely nurse attended to the lady. In due course once she was comfortable, we completed the service. We had alerted the ambulance and a couple of "my"  St John paramedics arrived and checked her out. With assistance she was allowed to go home. I suspect my "glorious" sermon was forgotten by then! 
I have generally an elderly congregation so sermons have to be shortish. My congregation is not versed in scholarly scriptural analysis. I do a lot of preparation for my sermons. I get excited by where my theology leads me. I see all sorts of implications in what I am exploring. When I deliver the final product, however, I find myself needing to "dumb down" the presentation. If I gave all I wanted to say several things could happen. People would switch off... too hard to grapple with. Some people would be hurt or offended by my scriptural analyses. I have to allude to stuff so that people are opened up to wider perspectives by "hints" rather than careful, full disclosure presentation.  ... I know this adapting is part of the art of communication, but sometimes I feel like I am cheating myself, not being true to myself and I feel frustrated that I do not have a forum to explore the subjects in real depth. I have often said to myself, "One day I'm going to write a book." -  just for myself. I would love to spell out and explore where I stand and the full implications of my understandings, experiences and half thought out theories. Perhaps it is a retirement project. I thought, even as I tried presenting stuff this morning, "Sometimes I am sick of compromising! Give me people of depth who want to really explore stuff and not just skirt around the edges."

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