Because of our human nature we often have our own expectations when we see something, or hear something. It is one of the things we always get told as young people not to do, bow down to stereotypes. But do we carry this teaching into adult life? Do we realise how many obstacles we put in our own, and other people's, way by expecting the expected?
The thoughts behind these words started a few weeks ago as I sat in the vestry at the church I was about to lead worship in. I was their quite early, and I was going over my sermon notes. I don't really like working in quiet, so it was nice to hear people going about their business before church. It was a good reminder of why I was there. Yet this was to be short lived. The steward quickly silenced people in the corridor, because I was in the vestry and he didn't want to disturb me. The same steward removed coat hangers from the back of the vestry door because they made too much noise. Now some people like silence, and I'm all for it at the right times.
At the same church, someone came up to me at the end and said they had had a really good time. They had enjoyed church. I was thinking this was a really good thing, and congratulating myself on this. But then this lady went on to say, "But you shouldn't enjoy chapel, should you?" This took me a back slightly. I left the church worrying about them. This particular church is very Methodist, complete with Wesley bust and pews.
Whereas I do call myself Methodist, I do struggle with Methodism sometimes. Maybe it is the whole of the established church, but we are slow on the up take. We are thought to all sit in uncomfortable wooden pews, sing boring long songs which don't make any sense and the same thing happens each week. And some of the time we conform to it. But so often, it would benefit us not to!
I led our shoppers service recently. This is a 15 minute service on a Friday morning. It's great because you can easily play around with things. I did it on pray, and ended up with the Lord's Prayer to finish everything. Someone said it was great to have things in a different order, it makes you think.
So how much would we stop, think and realise if we did things really differently? I love the dreams young people have, because they aren't inhibited by practicalities. On Sunday, one of the young people at youth group suggested having a tree house church. It was great to dream with them. This dream came from an observation that it is easier for one of our leaders to worship in a warehouse type building. A blank canvass. Something that doesn't look like a church.
So what expectations do we live into? Which ones should we surprise people be dropping by the wayside?
Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Leaving aside all the environmental stuff, what a better way to start a journey than in an aeroplane. I think this because of the runway, and take-off. I particularly like runways in the dark, or like today, dim light because the lights just shine. They show the way to planes coming and going at the airport. Everything is controlled, and carefully monitored to make sure it all goes without a hitch.
Airports in particular remind me how exciting starting a new journey is. How much faith we need to put in people around us. Going past Gatwick today reminded me that it is only about 7 weeks until I will be there with a large group of people heading to Mombasa to work in a school out there. We'll be working with Friends of the Mombasa Children. I'm really excited to be heading back and seeing my African friends, and helping out in the school, and it's development. But I'm also really excited because I am taking a couple of really close friends, and I can't wait to show them why I love Kenya, and share some wonderful experiences with them.
However, one of my friends revealed to me recently that she doesn't really like flying. My instant reaction was, "You do know its a 10 hour flight to Kenya right!?". I was a little concerned! What had I let myself in for?! I wonder how my friend feels when she flies, and how much of a test of faith flying is. As with most things, I take it all in my stride so I haven't ever really stopped to think about it.
It turns out that my friend just doesn't really like the take-off and landing. I think these are the best bits. I love the exhilaration as you are pinned back into your seat and feel the engines fire and send you speeding along the runway into the sky. I also love the ground rushing up to meet you, feeling the wheels touch down. I like to think of new journeys in my life being like an aeroplane taking off, a step of faith, engines on full throttle, pinned back, exhilarating as you speed off into the unknown with friends around you offering comfort and support.
This is certainly what the start of my most recent journey feels like. I've been putting it off for ages, and I finally got round to firing up the engines to do pre flight checks (to really draw this analogy out). I'm not sure where its going to take me, but I'm glad of the support of my friends and family as I feel my way through this. Searching for the lights at the end of the runway, showing me the way.