Monday, November 14, 2005

Priest Idol

I've just watched the TV's latest serving of the current craze of reality TV - Priest Idol. The cameras are following the new vicar of a failing church in the north of England. Like so many churches in the UK, it owns a large old building which has seen better days but with a congregation averaging three.

It seems like the mighty organization of the church could not even find a native of the UK willing to take on the thankless task of reviving this dying flock - we had to import an unsuspecting candidate from the states. He has already received some advice from a local comedian on his communication style whilst preaching.

The priest has started his mission by focusing very much on the young people of the town. If the initial response is anything to go by the road ahead is very bumpy. One girl in response to the question Do you ever see yourself going to church? She said "In a box!" - think she meant a coffin. The other replies were not much better. The consensus was that church was irrelevant and boring in the extreme.

It continues to amaze me how we, the church at large, manage to take the most incredible, awesome, dramatic and life changing story and make it boring and uninteresting to so many people. We seem to have managed to obscure the basic truth that God is desperate for relationship with his creation with rules and rituals. I know we don't want to change the message, why would we want to its the greatest story ever told - God wants to give us a hope and a future, but lets find better ways to share this great news.

What saddened me most in the programme was after the priests numerable efforts to try to get some young people to church a few finally did turn up for a service. They were full of mischief and were clearly a handful. I'm not sure if the camera showed all the going ons but they were given a lecture on respect and told to remove their hats. (in fact one lady actually went behind the row they were sitting on and snatched them off.) These guys were just in the doors and we were again telling them you are welcome but only on our terms and by our rules. Some how I find it difficult to reconcile this with how Jesus related to people - he seemed to be the life and soul of the party.

Let the party begin!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Scared For Life

Back from a few days in Scotland. Its always interesting to pay a visit to the familiar places from your formative years. There is something comforting visit many of the places that you took for granted when growing up. For me it is the small fishing villages of Cairnbulg & Inverallochy in the north east of Scotland.

A walk along the sea shore seeing the rack (rocks) where we played so many war games. Pretending to rappel the Germans from landing in our village. Images of my friends and relations dressed up in army surplus uniforms that were a number of sizes too big for us filled my mind. On I walked passed the "Monkey Pole" a Coast Guard look out post that I am sure was not even used for that purpose 30 years ago when I used to climb it. Finally coming to Cairnbulg harbour or as it is called now the Boathaven. Its never really been much of a harbour more of a lump of concrete going out into the North sea but it doubled as a great place for us to fish for congers or if we were really lucky in the right season a Mackerel.

Looking over towards Fraserburgh I see the Bents (Grassy sand dunes) where we used to build camps in the summer made from anything we could salvage off the nearby beach.

On the Saturday I went to watch the Belgers (Slang for Cairnbulg natives) play football. Now I've never been very good at playing the game but always willing to try. It was for me very surreal. The guys who used to play were now on the sidelines shouting at the new generation that carried the hopes of the village on their shoulders. Everything looked the same the pitch, the surrounding houses nothing much had changed in 30 years but instead of playing my friends were now watching.

I took my son with me maybe I could give him a glimpse of what my life was like, maybe we could spend some time together just the two of us. I think the in phrase is Quality Time. Unfortunately I think I have scared him forever.

An old acquaintance invited me to take my son into his boat to see round it. A great opportunity, he loves boats and this one is massive. We arrived at Fraserburgh harbour and the boat was birthed 3 out. I helped my son to climb up the side of the first boat cross to the second. Everything was fine till we reached the next boat. Boats come in all sizes and when you combine this with some big fenders to stop boats damaging each other the next transition was down slightly but more importantly there as a gap through which all you could see was the water below. No for me this was no problem but for a 11 year old boy it must have looked like the English Channel. There was no way he was going across.

However the real problems started when we tried to get back to the pier. We had to climb down the outside of the boat with the inevitable water below. He just would not climb down. He decided to jump he made a running start but just as he got to the edge of the boat he changed his mind and tried to stop. Its difficult to explain what happened next but the result was that he was on the outside of the boat hanging on by his finger nails. I managed to get him back on terra firma but he doesn't want to know anything about boats.