I have a heavy cold this week. I have put off visiting chaplaincies because I think I may pass on the illness. It has been hard to concentrate and to relate. Today for example we had visitors at the Church who demanded that I listen intently. A refugee from Bahrain talked of his country and experiences. Some people with mental health issues visited and ranted. When one man was crying and ranting I was listening intently, but saying to myself "I don't need this today!" You appreciate your healthy days when you have days like I am having this week.
A special this Sunday.
This coming Sunday at our Church we are hosting a St John Ambulance Church Parade. I am going to use the set lectionary readings and have been reading through suggestions, prayers and resources on the "Textweek" site. I really appreciate this site which often gets me started on my own thinking. As I plan worship this week I am holding in mind not so much the church community, but the people at St John I have sat and had lunch with two days a week since 1998. There have been a heap of conversations about "life". I have been for rides in the ambulance to "jobs". As I read, listen to and consider the various ideas and resources for worship I have been asking myself, "Where does this language, these concerns and this angle touch base with these essentially secular people, many of whom see life at its rawest?" I must admit I have been reminded just how inward looking a lot of our church culture is. Again and again I have pictured these people being turned off, not connecting or feeling excluded by the themes, priorities and language I have seen in these resources. The carefully worded prayers are great when read by Church people in a church setting, but exclude non-church thinkers. Religious sounding cliches, even modern up to date ones sound out of touch with real life. It may be that most of the offerings on the site come from North American culture and we New Zealanders are different? Anyway it has highlighted how we can so easily get wrapped up in a religious culture that unintentionally excludes others. I wonder how the Church can better keep in touch?
Life with nobody who cares
In our links with people through our drop-in centre and Space2B I am reminded that there are many people with nobody who cares about them in their life. Many of us have family, or a community in our workplace or some group of friends who we can sound off to. But I encounter people who have nobody, and because they have nobody they can get life twisted. I share one example. Today I was on the phone in one part of our Church building. As I was talking I heard this unearthly yelling coming from our Space2B area. I wondered what on earth was happening. Then Muthiah, who looks after Space2B came through and said, "Pastor (he is Indian and still calls me that though I have tried to get him to call me 'Dave') a man in there, wants to talk with you, he's yelling and crying!" I went in and for about an hour we listened to this man who was beside himself about health problems he was having. He demanded a miracle from God! In the process I asked about friends and family. "My father is in Christchurch in a rest home. I think he's still living." It seemed like he had not been in touch for some time but this seemed to be the nearest thing to friend or family this man had! He ranted, and ranted and we listened and made suggestions and listened some more. When he left he was smiling and laughing. I think his biggest need was not really health related, he just needed somebody to talk with, somebody to listen. Muthiah said with a grin, "He got his miracle. He came in here crying and went out laughing!" When we have people who listen to us and also share their understandings, our perspectives are more balanced and we can cope with life in a better way. "Wasting time" talking and listening to others is not wasting time. I wonder how we can ensure more people have friends?
I wonder who is out there and why?
I started blogging more as a cathartic way I can "journal", reflect on life and let off steam. In some ways it does not matter if anybody reads my words, its good for me to write it. But I do keep in touch with how many page views there are and the country the viewers come from. I find it interesting. People in a whole variety of countries read it. I know some people who read it but I wonder about others? I notice recently that there are posts read regularly in Russia! Who in Russia would be interested in the ravings of an old heretic minister in New Zealand? Why? I wonder why people read and then come back to read? Anyway thanks for reading, it makes me feel less alone in the journey of life.