Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Another Sunday... the need for depth.

The picture does not do justice to the reality... I love the "layers" of hills and mountains in the background.

Great place to sermonise. Loved this sunset view last night.

Serious looking grand daughter.
I survived another Sunday of Church ministry. I could identify with the Old Testament reading today. It came from Ezekiel, the call of God to the prophet to speak an unpopular message. Some of the words ascribed to God are recorded as;
"7You shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear; for they are a rebellious house."
I could  identify with the prophet. I often feel my words in Church and in other places fall on deaf ears. But then again, maybe mine are not clearly "Thus says the Lord" words. 
I did not sleep much last night so after Church I was exceptionally tired. We went out to the recently opened "Mad Butcher" shop where they had a special opening deal on sausages. It was "Buy 50, get 20 free." We serve sausages to about 40 people every Friday night so we went out and bought heaps of packets of 50, scoring a packet of 20 with each. A shop assistant looked at us as we were piling these in the trolly. You could hear his mind going. "These guys are greedy!" I am sure he was saying to himself. "You must love sausages!" he said to us. "Oh. Not for us." I stammered, "we run a drop-in centre." We went to the checkout and the wide eyed woman said, "Are these for a sausage sizzle!" "No" I repeated, "We run a drop-in centre." I was glad to get out of the place and walk our trolly full of sausages to the car with other pedestrians staring at our loot.
Lacking depth.. a "spirituality".... thinking out loud???
As I was preparing my sermon for this morning I got to thinking about the substance abuse, the abuse of alcohol and the impact of greedy materialism on people's lives. Our first reaction is to say, "The government should be doing something!" But I think you will never legislate a truly healthy lifestyle. These abuses are symptoms of something deeper. People are simply not happy. They are missing significance in their life. Somehow we need to enable people to discover lives of depth, fulfillment and meaning. If that happened, teenagers, and adults (a news item suggested the heaviest drinkers were men in their fifties) will value life too much to get into such destructive abuse. Somehow we in the west need to attend to the "depth" of life. We need to discover a meaningful spirituality that enables us to navigate our way through life. We, even in the Church, are afraid of depth. We are weak, or malnourished in that dimension of life. Because we are weak, we are suffering. Let me say that traditional and contemporary Christianity has been found wanting, and no longer meets the deep need. The Church needs a reformation which would lead to different emphases, different patterns of serving and communicating, and a simple but profound "gospel". Perhaps it is coming.. but probably not in my time. Though the church is distorted, society still needs some group whose job it is to keep reminding us to dig deeper, and not just live on the surface. Superficial living, even religious superficiality, destroys us in the long run.

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