Friday, 21 September 2012

Trust on the edge?

I often find myself here, fingers poised over this keyboard, wondering if I can actually blog about all the stuff that's going on: the people, the issues, the ways forward, the problems, the conflicts.  In practice it usually makes me pause, then go away and do something less dangerous instead.  Talking about church in a blog (in almost any way) can be a risky thing to do...

But to reflect that we can live in a edgy way is good: read this guest post on friend's blog by a friend.

The churches where I serve are not established in any sense of the word: neither formally, as part of a state church, as there isn't officially a state church in Scotland (some of my Church of Scotland colleagues may argue this...), nor in a we-have-lots-of-money-and-are-clear-where-and-who-we-are sort of way.

One of my English colleagues with whom I Google+ met this week (see piccy below) has started at a new parish - and he described them as having lots of money and tradition, wanting to grow, but not knowing how. He has an exciting time ahead as he takes them on their journey (prayers for him!).

But the contrast here feels extraordinary.  We have no money, not in a significant sense.  Our existence is precarious. Our master-plan is to try and offer an encounter with the living God to anyone who is seeking it.  That's not an easy thing to try do in the geographical and financial fringes of a country, with dodgy buildings, midges and the rain!

But we are in a spiritual heartland, out here in the fringes.  Jesus met people on the fringes of society (St Matthew's day today - the repulsive outcast tax-collector - transformed into a follower, and, if you wish, an evangelist) - so being on the fringe is good for church mission.  You don't take your (still greatly valued) tradition too seriously, you are open to new possibilities - that's life on the edge.

But being edgy can make people anxious - I guess the answer is to strike a balance between confidence in where and how an institution is going, and a certain looseness and edginess about going that way.  The best model I can find must be ... yes, you've guessed it: Jesus and his disciples.  Did they know where the project was going? No.  Was it a safe, established, comfortable project? No.  But an encounter with the living God was made again, and again.  And they trusted him in this journey, wherever it might take them.

Trust and edginess - those must be the perfect partners for Christian mission!


  1. The poem I wrote several years ago on this subject can be found here

  2. Good stuff! Those who have never danced on the edge have failed to experience the exhilaration at the very core of God's being.

  3. Sorry Chris. On re-reading your poetry, you say it so much better!

  4. Thanks, Kenny! The photo is the Aonach Eagach - taken by moi on a wonderful day!