Just how inclusive are we? (Revised)

Hit the wrong button yesterday and this got published before I’d finished. I was rushing out to get yet another blood test. I get blase about appointments these days, but I have two weeks off now…yayyy.

The Article below which I read on a blog, had me thinking. I think it throws open many questions about human nature which are not easy to answer. What would be the reaction if I read this out at the beginning of a service. We always welcome visitors to our church, and ask them to stay for coffee afterwards, but  is this invitation for those who we think will fit nicely into the congregation and not rock the boat.

I read something that Jeff Lucas had written about a stripper who attended his church, not dressed in the normal Sunday attire. They eventually adapted a service time so that she and her colleagues could attend. It was said that some wives had to cover their husbands eyes to allow them to concentrate.

At a service in a hall recently I sat next to a lady who usually sits alone, and I felt she might need some company, being the nice Ministers’ wife that I am. She was sitting next to a radiator, and as she heated up, it became apparent why she sits alone. The smell became over powering and I had difficulty singing without retching, I was relieved when the service ended and I flew outside for air. Despite my feelings, Jesus loves her and was pleased with her worship (despite her personal hygiene requirements.)

This Church Notice comes from  Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community Church, but I have changed parts to relate to our own denomination.

” We extend a special welcome to those who are single,married, divorced ,gay,filthy rich, dirt poor, de tala inte Engliska,. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new borns,skinny as a bean pole or could afford to lose a few pounds.

We welcome you, if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like some of us who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You are welcome here if you are just “browsing”, just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you are Baptist, Methodist, Anglican or more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church for donkey’s years.
We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 ,but not grown up yet,and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccar Mums, rugby mad Dads, starving artists,tree huggers, latte sippers, vegetarians, junk food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you are having problems, or if you are down in the dumps or if you don’t like ” organised religion”, we’ve been there too.
If you blew all your money at the Bookies, you are welcome here.We offer a special welcome to those who think that the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell,or are here because Grandma dragged them.
We welcome those who are tatooed,pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid,or got lost in traffic and ended up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, the broken hearted ……..and YOU!

I don’t think I have to comment, just how welcoming is your Church or mine?
This has been eating at me after a conversation with a member of the congregation, it was very cold in Church on Sunday, the particular building we were in this week is old and not in good repair, if you sit at the end of a pew plaster falls on your head ( small crumbly bits, I might add).It also has the Lairds Balcony, now unsafe but means a very high ceiling. I suggested to a lady that was cold that perhaps we should wear hats, to which she replied that she had a box full and I noticed that her eyes gleamed. The fashion of wearing hats comes and goes but, in church it could become and probably did, when it was considered compulsory,  a barrier . At events televised in great cathedrals, hats seem to have been chosen to get oneself into “Hello” magazine.

Many of us look back on our church life with nostalgia. I had a friend who always wore a hat, just because she liked too, but some of the rituals we enjoy keep us from moving on and being open enough for anyone to walk in off the street. I am not attacking denominations, we all choose the kind of worship we most enjoy, from those with beautiful choral music and prayer books, to those with a band and much less structure, I love variety, but I know that some of the folk mentioned above in the Church Notice, would have some of us in a flurry of emotion .We are not called to judge them , and that is much harder than it sounds. Why?   That’s a big subject that I might tackle later, unless of course you would like to start the ball rolling in a comment?  Jesus didn’t label people, in his eyes we are all equal, all our sins forgiven because of his sacrifice.It all comes down to that four letter word  “LOVE” with  that word none of us deserve  “GRACE”.

We’re putting on a show…

We all arrived for our singing practice at the Church. There were about 16 of us and that’s not bad for a cold highland night. Unfortunately our patient music teacher, and that is what she is by trade, couldn’t make it.
It had been arranged for us to sing to a C.D of backing music, so that we could at least get a grip of the tunes. However, it seemed that the person bringing the C. D. player wasn’t able to make it, after a quick phone call by someone who lived just across the road, we arranged for another player to be brought, and one of our choir thought that she had a C.D in her handbag.
Player set up ,we waited to get started on our rendition of Grahame Kendricks’ “The Gift” , sitting waiting for our intro we were surprised to hear the dulcet tones of Nat King Cole, on further inspection, thats what we had “The unforgettable Nat King Cole” C.D.
Thankfully another person in the choir belongs to the Running Club, she sprinted home and got the right disc…… Hopefully by the end of November we might sound halfway decent ….

Times change.

I was just reading a blog post that sent me reminiscing.
The lectionary reading has set the Rev. preaching about consumerism the last two weeks. He was brought up in “Old Reekie” Edinburgh, with buses and shops and cinemas and all the conveniences of a City.
In contrast, I grew up in a tiny village in the depths of Sussex.

Our house was next to the horse, the bike is leaning on the railings. We didn’t usually use the store as it was too expensive, but we did go to get bacon, which was sliced while you waited, and sugar was weighed and wrapped in blue paper. The village didn’t change much  in appearance until the 70’s.

Our bread arrived in the bakers van and he brought it to the door in a huge, handled basket . My Mother then selected her loaf. Sometimes there were extras ,such as hot cross buns or a chelsea bun. The fish man came on Friday,also the Grocer who wore a brown version of the Bakers’ white coat, the same as Doctors wear. The Corona Man, remember those drinks, came Wednesdays, always a good day for us kids! Cream soda to die for, and the Butcher came on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A topside roasting joint, steak for stew, and sausages. The order never varied, nor did my Mothers’ cooking…..everything got cremated. I didn’t know that food had any other taste than burnt, until I left home!
Other days were Corned beef fritters and boiled eggs in cheese sauce! There was no choice, you ate it or went hungry.

That was why I learned to cook, and why my children always got one other choice.

It wasn’t just tradesmen who came to call, there were often gypsies selling pegs or heather. Mum always gave them something, as she was very superstitious, the gypsy either blessed or cursed.
In our shed was a big bag called the “rag bag”. All old clothes and material that couldn’t be used were put into this bag. Usually during the summer, a horse would be heard clopping through the village, and a weather beaten man would shout, “raaaaagnbooon”, we children were scared of him and ran and hid. We had heard tales from our grannies about gypsies stealing children! He was only earning a living, and peeping from behind a bush in the front garden, I watched him sharpen my Mum’s kitchen knives and scissors on a big stone wheel in the cart behind the horse. Recycling is not new.

A prim lady used to call selling bibles and childrens’ books. I remember getting a bible of my own with a red cover and coloured plates inside. Jesus was as white and blonde as me! It never occurred to me that he lived in the Middle East, not that I would have known where that was. London , I was told ,was the furthest away place I needed to know about, and very bad people lived there! This was when I was still at Primary School.( I learned that the world was much bigger when I went to Grammar School 16 miles away.)

We didn’t have a phone in the house, we got a bathroom when I was 11, and a cooker!, before it was a Rayburn. We didn’t have a fridge until I was 8, perishables were kept in a zinc cabinet
I remember a very happy childhood, but I can’t say that it is better than the life my children have. Life, technology, church all keep moving on, nothing stands still. We have to keep bending and changing too. I’m sure my son will someday say to his children, we used to spend all day in our bedrooms playing computer games…….