Sunday, September 05, 2004

Out on a limb....

OK folks. I guess the honeymoon between congregation and new curate has just been brought to an untimely end by this evening's sermon....Fresh home from Greenbelt, and having thought about little else than questions of emerging church for much of the past months (even my vicar thought it important that I weigh up the parish in the light of Mission Shaped Church), today I set to and preached it.
The Evensong readings included Isaiah 43..."I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up. Do you not see it?"
I found myself telling the congregation things that none of you will be remotely surprised by.....that the church is always only one generation away from extinction...that to be catholic means to be inclusive, and not just of People Like Us....that it would matter not a jot or tittle if the C of E was dead within a decade, so long as the church continued to act as the agent of God's mission on earth.
None of it revolutionary, really. None of it rocket science, or indeed D.Theol....but also none of it stuff that they had been made to consider before.
Truly, when I was preparing the thing I couldn't help myself....and if it comes to a contest between upsetting the congregation and ignoring pretty firm direction from God, I know which I would rather do
But as many of you will know, I tend to go 50 miles to avoid confrontation, so finding myself out on an even mildy prophetic limb was scary,scary, scary.
I had one unexpected ally, in the shape of an elderly ex Warden, who greeted the idea that church might look totally different and still fulfill its purpose....My sweetheart of a vicar was fine too....but otherwise the silence was deafening. Even my good friend in the congregation said she felt I'd not been there long enough to preach that sort of stuff. She said it with a smile, but I suspect that's the general reaction.
Does anyone have a bunker available for reluctant prophets to lurk in till the storm has passed?


Rhys said...

Oh well - as long as nobody actually walked out ! Now you've disturbed the comfortable you can go and comfort the disturbed.
Good to see someone of the same tradition and in a similar boat to mine blogging. You write "pretty firm direction from God" and it reminds me of Daivid Edwards's book what anglicans believe and in it he questions "Does 'the Holy Spirit' really mean our own bright ideas?"

Humble Secretary said...

I am always nervous of when people say things with a smile.

Churches without a vision for the future aren't really a good idea - I know I find that a hard concept to swallow - as I am deeply entrenched in How I Like Things - and I suspect that I am not alone.

Blessings my friend.

Kathryn said...

Thanks, both...Rhys, I'm sure I found a link to your blog somewhere, thought it was via John Davis but can't see it now. Please let me know where you are, so I can read you too...Sorry to be so inept!

Rhys said...

You're very gracious Kathryn so I've posted a bit more on my site. and remember we won't be curates for ever.

Try Robert Warrens Healthy Churches handbook (CHP 2004) on a way to get congregations to engage with the stuff Mission shaped church talks about.

steve said...

nothing like setting your stall out is there :)
truth ... setting an example ... being there for people ... caring beyond the call of duty ... all these things will soften the impact of your confusing sermons and they will remain unsettled and you will fascinate them

now who was it that evoked a response like that ...nope it's gone :)