Addicted?

i

Am I?

My 7 year old son said yesterday: ‘Dad; I know what you would do on Saturday- even if you did not have to work: you would turn on the computer. You are addicted!’ (afficionados of correct punctuation will already be sorely wounded by that sentence. You should go to another blog right now. In this blog, through ignorance, weakness and sometimes my own deliberate fault, grammar and punctuation are mashed, trashed and er…generally monkeyed around with).

I think he is right, but (pause while I surf, check my bank account and check the scores of Harayana 3rds v New Delhi 4th on cricinfo.com) I can handle it….

addict

Life would be a lot easier if  I had an ethernet port transplanted to the side of my head or a wireless card….

I’ve been thinking about ‘being still’ the last few days of blog entries. Not as a kind of rarified, syrupy, ‘other wordly spiritual’ thing (adopts drippy tone, drops voice to sound ‘meaningful’….. ‘now lets just…really…..put our problems to one side and focus on the Lord’……meanwhile rest of congregation who have ordinary mixed up lives….worries about the future…minds fried by images of Gaza feel like (a) hitting him or (b) carry on with the illusion that the ‘ordinary’ is unclean and ‘spiritual’ is good, whilst at the same time being unable to ‘let go’ and thinking it is all down to their ‘sin’). But as a kind of normal thing- you know….spaces/moments in an ordinary day…. to offer God the rush, stop giving in to the desire for instant amusement/gratification.

Today I managed it….. I stand in the line of Moses, Samson, Gideon, Barak and all those heroes from Hebrews ch11 (which as any fule kno is in the Bible)…well maybe not quite…… I turned my monitor off and managed at least 15 minutes to pray…think, read the Bible…. slowly read Michael Frost’s book…… and then it went back on.

He is right… I am addicted.

But then, so are you: you are reading this.

Maybe we could form a club of addicts. We wouldn’t have to talk. We could just look at monitors and instant message or facebook or twitter each other….

Hopefully more still today…..

pastor4

http://www.nakedpastor.com/ has been an inspiration for me; strange quirky cartoons that I have used a lot and get to the real issues and what is greater- vulnerability. This guy is a pastor and yet he is open, in a field that does not generally exhibit openness and can tend to ‘look at me; look at the ”success” I am having’. If you don’t believe me, talk even to the nicest of us (that would be me then) and see how often our conversation is peppered with ”my’ church’ ,     ‘ this church got this wrong until I sorted them out’, ‘ ‘I’ had 22 at the evening service last night.’ , ‘ ‘I’  have planted a church’. etc etc.

Vulnerability (and I don’t mean narcissistic vulnerability)is deeply unsettling for the person doing it, but more so for many church members (paradoxically those ‘outside’ the church often do not seem to have a problem). For the pastor/leader; ‘I can’t be any less than the messiah; I’m the expert- it is too scary’….for the church attendee ‘S/he said that; they are not ‘proper’- we need a leader.’

That is a caricature, but I feel in a lot of cases, sadly accurate. We need our ‘naked pastors’ as prophets to be vulnerable- we can’t talk about honesty and openness which help to build real community unless we show it.

But….it is scary- far better to pretend and be safe (but at the same time feel a little colder inside) and strive for imagined ‘competence’ and be a ‘good minister’.

lonely-leaf

I am feeling so unsettled at the moment; very good friends are emmigrating and good friends who live in this community are moving in 3-4 weeks. Both sets of friends are  people that pray. We can call on them, drop round, phone up. This feels very difficult right now.

We are living in a place where a lot of people would give their right arm to live in; good schools, countryside, good community and yet……

….I am not sure if I have ever really ‘fitted’ here or felt totally at home. It did not help that we moved at a very hard time in our lives (2 kids 3 & under,  and having lost our support and friendship networks); we were not in a good place and not well inclined to see blessing. We moved into a house that ….well let me say that we would tell friends our street, but not the number and say ‘find it’- strangely enough they always found it; it stuck out as a ‘church house’. There were reasons for that and the subsequent struggle to get improvement, but in a wealthy area that felt really hard. The people were and are friendly, but for one reason or another they did not do any meaningful or practical hospitality for us for a considerable time. I don’t know why; maybe with many in support networks or being reasonably well off it was hard to imagine people who were not. Maybe people imagine a minister to be somehow ‘different’… I just don’t know…. We had little money, I was away for a couple of weeks a year or more doing MA stuff, we had two kids and knew no one and had no support networks; it was tough.

Things are better, but that early experience comes back from time to time and particularly now (perhaps as a ‘good’ Christian I should get over it- but it still stings) ; I am feeling a tad unsettled.  I don’t want to write those words or for them to be public…but…. ‘vulnerability’…..My wife has a bewildering variety of career options on offer and decisions have to be made in the next few days. I/we long to find friends to share and pray with and a supportive community….it don’t seem to be there in the way that I long for….

Partly it is me- that which I crave, I am not sure I model. Partly it is what I do- I try to think missionally and try new stuff; a ministry I am involved with needs a re think after 3 years- there is risk and uncertainty and I feel exposed and unsure……yadda yadda yadda….

There is a part of me that dreams of starting over again. But my denomination has a strange system for moving. Try and invent a system that compares with this:-

You give notice & have to leave by mid July/August. Often that can be up to 18 months in advance. At this time you have no idea of vacancies. Even if you did, you could not apply for them. A point arrives, usually 11 months before you are due to go- you meet with a leader, outlining the 5 or 6 out of all the available vacancies that you would like to look at. Months pass…. you get a name…it may not be any of the five or six… you go and look, maybe say ‘no’…you wait a month, get another name and this process goes on and on. You might say ‘yes’, you might continue to say ‘no’ and you may never get to look at any of those 5 or 6 you started with. All the time you know that time is running out as you have given notice and can’t stay…. Meanwhile your denomination pushes out reports to say how wonderful the system is……. grrrrrrr

It just couldn’t be invented, could it?

dove

And into this heady brew…. I’m praying, mixed up and unsure and I come to the Psalms…. Psalm 55:6-7:-

Oh, that I had wings like a dove;
      then I would fly away and rest!
  I would fly far away
      to the quiet of the wilderness.

…and I have no answers and I still don’t know, whether it is just me, whether it is January or whatever. And- even though I can feel nothing, I have a hunch somewhere that I/we are known.

If you have any spare prayers; to paraphrase ‘Elbow’ : ‘send up a prayer in my name…’

Comments, Please!

Image from www.lawyersconveyancing.com.au/img/im_gagged.jpg. It is amazing what images come out when you put the word ‘gagged’ in…

Ok- I know that some people read this blog. A chosen few I actually know; most of you I don’t. You do it either because:-

(1) You know me and it is to keep me quiet.

(2) You accidentally clicked on ‘diggingalot’ when you were looking for gardening supplies or you are a hep hip cat kind of dude that ‘digs’ things.

(3) It is part of your asbo/community service order /rehabilitation to surf the net.

(4) You do not have a life.

(5) You like it (really…?)

(or it could be a combination of all 5).

But not many of you comment!!!

Therefore, to make it easy for you I’ve put some sample comments below. All you have to do is cut and paste into the comments field! It couldn’t be easier! (well breaking wind and picking your nose probably is….).

Sample comments:-

* ‘Thanks for your blog; it is the most wonderful thing written ever! ‘

*’Amazing; have £60,000 a year and come and work for me.’

* ‘I will report you to your church; you are a heretic and should be burnt at the stake or at least forced to watch God Channel for 65 hours a week’.

* ‘Sorry, I just stopped by whilst looking for Dutch porn (you are not by any chance from Zeebrugge are you….thought not…)’

(visitors should note that I often use a concept called ‘Irony’ (TM) in my postings…)