'A bit of a day out for me this Sunday so I can't really comment on worship at Banchory Ternan East. I wasn't there. I'd travelled all the way from Banchory to Portethen. Not a holiday, you understand, but time spent with a congregation preparing to look for a new minister. Not a holiday, but tacked onto a week away for me looking into my roots in border country. So the question was how to prepare for Sunday in a hotel room without my usual supply of books and commentaries and only a rather feeble WiFi to rely on.
Help came from an unusual source. The film Paddington Bear. Not a true life adventure documentary, but the video antics of a bear who loves marmalade. I've always had a feeling of kin ship with Paddington. He likes marmalade. No breakfast is complete for me without marmalade. What more proof is needed that he would be there to support me when needed.
John reminds us that Jesus' sheep listen to him. Jesus reminds us that He is one with the Father. We remind ourselves that we are Jesus' sheep so we listen. It seems a good soundbite, but what does it mean? Listening to Jesus is the same as listening to God. Yes, but how does that work? It contains ideas of stretching yourself to dig from John's gospel. Working in your comfort zone is alright as long as you are listening to God who, by the way, often wants to stretch you. Who said there's little humour in the Bible. Listen and stretch, ah yes a satisfactory message for Sunday is emerging even if it does sound a little like a keep fit DVD. The church is vacant, going through the process of looking for a new minister so it seems as though listening to God while at the same time preparing to be stretched may be the right way. But how to explain it in less Goddy terms. Enter Paddington the movie, go on, forget about ideas of making butterflies of hope, ask the congregation to enter into the story. The bear who comes full of hope to UK, but finds only one family 'The Browns' willing to take him in. Grudgingly all members agree and before you know it Paddington is surfing down the stairs in a bath. He didn't mean to, it just happened and he had to go with the flow (ha ha). Well more than that he had to control it somehow. Even though the process wasn't always smooth the Browns gave Paddington a home. What better way to act on what you hear from God. A vacant church full of listening people, a talkative God and suddenly a vision appears of what it means to find a new ministry. A group of people sharing a sense of belonging in the presence of God listening to him, to each other and the community around them. Now there's church in action.
Short Reference list this week:
Paddington Bear -the movie