The next few days will feature mostly times of relaxation! I’m finally taking back some of the hours that I’ve built up doing evenings and weekend work. Today, went to see Tarantino’s new film – ‘Inglourious Basterds‘ (his, purposefully, bad spelling!)…on my own, unsurprisingly, as not entirely Kay’s cup of tea…and, well, Sephi is a little shy of it’s 18 rating! Anyway – classic Tarantino. I’ll leave it there. You either love him or hate him. Lots of fun though!
We had a lovely weekend – great Sunday morning hanging our with a couple of other new Dads and babies, chatting, having breakfast and just generally sharing life. Really good stuff. Hoping that more Dads from our NCT group may eventually join in…and then maybe others as well. Would love to be able to put together a decent support network for new Dads – and to give Mums a break at least one morning a week! Love the sense of community this whole new life as a Dad is bringing with it.
Sunday evening saw the wonderful Canon Mark Rylands (soon to be Bishop Mark of Shrewsbury) speaking at our ENC gathering. Mark spoke about the spreading of the good news about Jesus out amongst the nations as promised by him at the end of the gospel accounts. Inspiring to think about how the church exploded from being a bunch of terrified followers locked together in an upper room to a serious, radical, revolutionary empire changing movement in virtually one lifetime. The challenge to us was to think about where our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the rest of the world might be. Mark’s particular passage was Acts 10-11, where Peter has a massive paradigm shift – his entire worldview is blown away and then put back together through a simple vision, a response to a calling and the outcome of his willingness to be used by the Spirit.
This worldview being blown apart isn’t about something as insignificant as styles of worship, or what liturgy we should use, or what our view on the sacraments may be – but a whole transformation of an understanding of who God’s chosen people were. Not just a select group but the whole of humanity. Peter suddenly understands what the scriptures have always said about Israel being a light to the nations – now, that time has truly come.
Peter was even in a place where it was inappropriate for a good Jew to be – staying with a tanner – someone who would have been on the very fringes of Jewish society…even more so agreeing to eat with Gentiles and baptise them into the faith. By this very act Peter is turning his faith world upside down – modelling a inclusivity that challenges us today.
Maybe we face a similar challenge today. Which worldview have we allowed to get in the way of who we’re called to be by God? Who are the ‘gentiles’ of contemporary society we need to be embracing today? What things do we need to be transforming in our church culture – what attitudes need challenging? Perhaps most importantly, how are we placing ourselves in the right place to hear the Spirit’s prompting about changing our paradigm? Peter’s vision came during his prayer time…the rest follows his willingness to listen.
Maybe the Spirit is already prompting us, and like Peter, we need to hear a few times before we get it…but then, whatever it may cost us in terms of our heritage and our most deeply held cultural beliefs, we have to be willing to listen and act. The trick is working out how to remain solidly reliant on God and who we understand him to be through his relevation through scripture and the experience of the church over the ages while seeking to follow the Spirit’s guidance in breaking barriers.
Much to be inspired by…thanks Mark. We’ll miss you…