Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Keeping us Moving Forward (3)

Jean Varnier prescribes celebration as a nourishment and resource for tired human existence.  It symbolises the unity and joy we hope for as irritations of daily life and little quarrels are swept away.  I've been doing some reflections on what makes sense to me.

5.  Fifth, we need to make up our quota of honour for each other.  The New Testament reserves expressions of thanksgiving almost exclusively for God.  But honour is a big word for the saints.  It’s a fundamental mark of the quality of life in the church.  Sadly, you can mumble thanks in just a shallow or passing expression.  But honour requires a deep and steady disposition of heart towards someone.  Of course, we’re told to honour our father and mother.  Then, in Romans, also each other (Romans 12:10), and public authorities (13:7), too).

In 1 Corinthians 12:23-26, Paul talks about the less presentable parts of the body receiving more honour.  Think just how much we work at our hair styles, faces, finger nails and other visible parts of our bodies.  When it comes down to it, our liver and kidneys are a lot more important to us than our hair (or lack of it) or a few wrinkles or bulges.  Which do you value more (the root word for honour is value or price), or would prefer to be kept working properly? 

There’s even a mention that leaders should get a spot of honour for making a good job of their responsibilities (1 Timothy 5:7).  Initiating the right sort of commendation is a vital antidote to the scourge of today’s celebrity culture.

The longer we’re together and get to know each other – warts and all – the more we need honour.  One Saturday evening I arrived back at our community home late.  I parked where I knew the car wouldn’t be in the way of the sister who regularly loaded up the catering stuff for the Sunday morning meeting.  If her car wasn’t just where she wanted it, she’d move everything round.  Sure enough, at breakfast time, there she was frantically spinning the wheel on another car – the one for the PA kit.  Can you guess what happened?  She bumped a parked-up vehicle.  And, do you know what the killer was for me?  I’d been able to predict every last detail of the whole incident.  A sister I must honour!

6.  Finally, the call to keep pioneering.  The Honeytree song haunts me: “Keep pressing onward to your own frontier…”.  I haven’t reached mine, and it irks me.  Each December, Huw calls in senior leaders for a year-end accountability and review session.  A couple of years ago I related a dream to him.  In it, I was in a car accident.  The mess and damage got progressively worse until I knew I was going to lose my life.  At this point, I exploded, “Is that it?!  Is that all it amounted to?!”  As I told Huw, he laughed.  But I was in dead earnest.  This year I confirmed with him that Pastor Shanta in Kathmandu had just led a conference of 800 Christian workers and leaders.  It’s exactly 12 months after we’d taken Multiply to Nepal.

We make a point of giving wisdom and prophecy at the Agape evening nearest to members’ birthdays.  When I was approaching sixty, Jayne encouraged me to keep on with initiatives, even though I may not live to see them come to pass.  I took this indignantly. 

Now I have little alternative to the prospect that I won’t see anything I set in motion through to completion.  This cuts against my instincts.  I’ve got no respect for “blue skies” ideas that people expect others to do the work for.  My training is to rigorously assess any initiative, and work out the process of implementation, as I will then expect to tackle it.  But equally, I’ve got no respect for folks who’ve awarded themselves premature retirement.  Celibacy is in crisis because church members in their fifties and sixties haven’t seen that they’re pioneering through their declining years how to keep the gift ablaze.  Some have become self-concerned in the most ugly and introverted way imaginable. 

My challenge is to unpack my years of experience so the following generation can take it on.  I have no higher ministry priority.  And I’m finding it massively demanding.  Much of the problem is how learning happens with people who aren’t like me.  So my final conclusion: we must press on to the unreached frontier.

No comments: