Saturday, 21 July 2007

Celebrations, commiserations and late night theology

Feeling tired could be the recurring theme of this blog. It's certainly how I feel now having just travelled back from a wedding in Somerset in the rain. The journey down yesterday and back today took about twice the time we would normally expect. But at least we got there -even got into the church ahead of the bride, but only just! Turning up at the wrong church initially did not help. Some of our party did not make it to the church and others arrived early this morning, having missed the whole thing because they ended up spending the night on the M5. Two adults and three children overnight in a car with no supplies was not their idea of a good time and we missed them at the celebrations.

I really enjoyed the wedding of Karen and Ian yesterday. A simple relaxed service was followed by a wonderful meal and an evening do with disco and band. The bride was beautiful, the groom attentive and their two children played their part with 6 year old Alyssa as a gorgeous bridesmaid and 11 year old Rhys as an excellent assistant best man. His proposal of a toast to mum and dad was a real tear jerking moment. It was a privilege to take part in the service by reading an excerpt from Captain Correlli's mandolin.

Late in the evening as we waited up in the hope of seeing our missing friends, the conversation turned to religion. We were a mixed group including a Methodist minister, a youth worker, a professed atheist comedy writer and broadcaster (all ex members of a youth group of which I was a leader) and a gay historian and archeologist. It is difficult when you hear the faith and values that you hold dear being lifted up as the cause of many evils in the world (and that was just from the Methodist minister!). But some of the arguments are based on facts that cannot be refuted. Many wars arise from religious differences. Fundamentalist teaching encourages young people to develop feelings of hatred to other groups. Gay people are not encouraged to believe that they can take up an equal place within religious communities. It is easy to see how you might arrive at the resulting conclusions that it is all bonkers and should be avoided if not banned. Whilst I fully believe that secular society shows that bad things happen even where people have turned their backs on religion, that power struggles happen and gangs come together based on a range of belief systems I do think that it is important to recognise not only the good that comes out of faith communities but the misconceptions and injustices as well. I can't help thinking that people will be more persuaded by our lives than our arguments. Back to concentrating on following Jesus without embarassing God!

Well that kept us going until about 3.30 this morning when some of us went to bed. I may be getting too old for late night theology.

By the way, just to reassure anyone who thinks that I might have mislaid the President again, please note that he is having a well earned holiday before getting down to carrying out the duties of President of the Methodist Conference in earnest.


Anonymous said...

On behalf of the methodist recorder, may we wish the both of you a great year.

Lorna (see through faith) said...

Jesus said come to me and I will give you rest.

Praying for your year in office. unofficial greetings from UMC Finland.