Thursday, October 28, 2010

It’s my blog so I’ll cry if I want to

Last night, I attended the installation of the new moderator for the Uniting Church of South Australia. Being from a different denomination background, a “baptist-on-loan”, these occasions are truly fascinating.

I tend to approach them as “research opportunities”, a chance to explore the spirituality of another part of God’s mosaic. But somehow last night, I found myself whacked sideways by emotion.

It happened as the outgoing moderator was being released. This involved some words, and then the invitation for his wife and church family to come forward and receive him back. Which they did, standing and coming forward to exchange hugs and handshakes.

And I started crying. (It’s my blog, so I can share this if I want to!)

I think I’m still grieving not being part of the Opawa Baptist church community. I think I’m still finding being in Australia and in this new context very difficult. As are my family. It’s not easy following Jesus. Especially when following is a cost not just to an individual, but to a family and a community.

Church history is full of leaders full of ego and ambition. Church history is also full of leaders dragged away from what they loved, in order to serve the church. (For more on this, see a reflection I wrote earlier this year on Gregory). The church is a demanding mistress and it was moving for me to see some dimension of these demands being visibly named last night.

So thanks, Uniting church, for being demanding, fascinating and for helping me cry :)

Posted by steve at 11:49 AM

11 Comments

  1. wow that must have been powerful – its funny when that old grief spills over when not expecting it. prayers for you all

    Comment by Jo Wall — October 28, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

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  3. Oh my: “dragged away from what they loved, in order to serve the church”. That’s it exactly. Thanks for this blog, it makes me feel less alone.

    But there’s also so much joy in this journey. Maybe that’s because while it hurts to be dragged away from the embodiment of the church I love here, I discover the church I love being embodied in the next place I’m dragged to. Turns out it’s God’s church I love, which is embodied here there and everywhere.

    Which begs the question of the partners and families that take this journey with us…and the loved church communities that we leave behind.

    “following is a cost not just to an individual, but to a family and a community”. Yep, exactly. I’ve not made my peace with that…

    Comment by Andrew Dutney — October 28, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

  4. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the reminder of the reality of ministry. I keep this quote from one of the blogs you wrote when you came back from sabbatical on my phone, it reminds me that the call to ministry is challenging and time consuming but that if we believe it’s to build the Kingdom then it’s part of the mix of ministry.

    ‘I come back with dreams of a more sustainable lifestyle etc. Then I look at my calendar and I realise that I’m fooling myself. As long as I continue to be tri-vocational – juggling pastoring and lecturing and speaking, as long as I continue to refuse to accept that church is for maintaining the status quo Sunday by Sunday, as long as I continue to dream and think, then my life will be busy.’

    Maybe I’ll add today’s quote to my phone as well.

    Blessings, David.

    Comment by David Goodall — October 28, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

  5. Thanks Andrew, if you do manage to make your peace with “following is a cost not just to an individual, but to a family and a community” do let me know, cos that’s what caused the most tears for me, the sense of what those I love might be going thru in order for me to “serve the church”

    David, I am honoured that my scribblings would be on your phone. Keep the faith. I was thinking about you and our pub conversation re men and funerals when reading Tim Gorringe’s book Furthering humanity on Tuesday evening. He was talking about folk faith and residual culture – the place of memory in cultural formation.

    steve

    Comment by steve — October 29, 2010 @ 8:18 am

  6. “following is a cost not just to an individual, but to a family”…..if you looked at the whole picture, you might find that your children especially, might be better off in Australia right now than having to go through what they would have had to endure during the past 2 months here.

    Comment by Ingrid — October 29, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

  7. Interesting thought, Ingrid…
    The earthquakes are not something i would wish on anyone.
    But we certainly wouldn’t have moved here to avoid them. :)
    Life is full of a range of experiences and we make the best decisions we can and live with the reality of all that means.
    Our decision to move to Adelaide was the “right” one, as we considered what God was asking of us as a family. But that doesn’t mean it is always easy. No promises of that anywhere! Growth happens.
    So we grow here, but am equally certain that if we had been called to remain in Chch, growth (diff growth) would have happened not least through experiencing the earthquake and aftershocks. And all the stuff that is going on around them.
    So i don’t find the idea of a comparison helpful.
    We get on and live the life set before us as best we are able.
    (And think of and pray for all those we love in the less-shaky-now-but-still-unpredictable christchurch)

    Comment by lynne — October 29, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

  8. Hi Lynne! Nice to hear from you. I was just trying to say: “All things are working together for good…Greetings

    Comment by Ingrid — October 29, 2010 @ 3:43 pm

  9. Hi Steve, thank you for your honest blog and your bravery, I have to say that it is in those moments that I’m proudest of being a uniting church member when as the church we name the reality of what it means to respond to the call of God in our lives. None of us give leadership to the church in how ever we do that with out it costing our families as well.

    Comment by Geoff — October 29, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

  10. Hey Steve,
    Thanks again for your story and insights and the things they cause me to reflect on… especially facing a time of change in the next 12 months and in a string of conversations about how we will or won’t pay that price…

    If I may, I ruptured both kneecap tendons in 2003, and to this day still grieve my rugby playing days… every Saturday in wonter and every time I watch a game etc etc… it evolves and I move on but it was so much a part of me that the reminders are rich and what I miss becomes very real… yet it happened and it opened up more time for the rest of my life… but I still miss it!!

    As someone who internalises my emotions so they come out at surprising times [ a song on radio on the F3 freeway, in a worship as you describe etc etc] I appreciate your description… however I cannot let the occasion pass without commenting that I’d be crying at an official UCA worship like an Induction for very different reasons but also related to the liturgy… thy are so wordy and dry… even if poignant…

    Anyhoo….
    Keep sharing and inspiring… I continue to look for the counter at God’s complaints department…

    Rob

    Comment by Rob Hanks — October 30, 2010 @ 8:43 pm

  11. Thanks Geoff and Rob – all these males sharing emotions!

    gosh

    steve

    PS Rob – congrats on the rugby, savour the moment :)

    Comment by steve — October 30, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

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