Monday, 8 October 2007

New term at the Big House


Well it's back in the thick of things here. Started with a meeting at 9am to catch up with people who had been off at different times over the recess then back to dealing with queries of Members of Parliament, looking at arrangements for potential lobbies of Parliament etc, getting changed into the uniform and then back into the Chamber. It was interesting to be in the Chamber for Gordon Brown's statement on Iraq and Hilary Benn's on the Bluetongue outbreak. Also had the opportunity to hear two maiden speeches today during the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill second reading. They were from Phil Wilson the new MP for Sedgefield who took over from Tony Blair at the by-election and Virendra Sharma who became MP for Ealing Southall in the by-election after the death of Piara Khabra earlier this year. Back to the Chamber soon for the adjournment debate on Pre-payment energy meters. It is interesting but tiring! Still, at least we have had Big Ben chimes back since last week to give that sense of structure to it all. I am also thinking about the theology of work at the moment for a planned discussion to be had during the Cornwall District visit in a couple of weeks time. How often have you heard a sermon about work or been asked about how your work relates to your Christian faith in a Church context? I'd be interested to know and you might be quoted in that discussion!

5 comments:

Olive Morgan said...

How our faith relates is a favourite theme of the Bishop of Reading and was the subject of one of his first ecumenical adresses on coming to Reading. This is how I wrote about it -

EVANGELISM IN THE WORKPLACE

The Bishop of Reading, the Rt. Rev. Stephen Cottrell, began by emphasizing the power and importance of prayer in evangelism, and then explained the difference between spirituality and evangelism. We should begin by asking ourselves, ‘How is my life shaped by Jesus Christ?’ We should always be ready to give a reason for the Holy Spirit within us, and we should be praying that God will open up opportunities for us to speak about God, because God is always opening up doors.

Using the example of someone who was both a Head Server in the Church and a Head Teacher but whose Minister never referred to him as anything but ‘Head Server’, the Bishop said that ministers fail to honour the ministry in the world of work. We pray for the professions but we should also remember to pray for those who work in the Inland Revenue, the Gas Board, etc. To explain morphological fundamentalism, he spoke of the inventor of quartz watches who worked for a Swiss watch company and who was told, ‘Very interesting, but it isn’t a watch! This company doesn’t make things like that.’ Then, at a Convention, a Japanese company saw it and took it up. This is a story about purpose. The Swiss company had lost sight of its purpose!

“In a multinational company, a guy had an idea that was taken up, but it was a flop and the company lost millions. The guy was
summoned to the office, fearing the worst – but he was sent for training, not sacked as he had expected to be. In the church, we have either forgotten our purpose or we are just keeping on doing the same things. Remember, it’s O.K. to make mistakes! We must stop starting with the church, thinking, ‘How can I get more people to come to church?’ That’s the wrong way!

“Christian faith is like a journey; people come to faith gradually over 4 or 5 years. Something happens to make them ask a question! The work of evangelism is best understood as helping people to make the journey. In evangelism in the workplace, never underestimate the power of simple Christian witness and never underestimate the power of prayer.” The Bishop said that at his baptism he had given what he thought was the reason for his conversion but he came to give a different reason for it after his Auntie Millie told him that she had prayed for him and his family each day for 40 years. He continued, “Now God wants to write your witness into other people’s stories – on the evidence of your life. Being a witness is not optional. Once people know that you go to church, they will start evaluating your church and its organisations by the witness of your life.

“The first mile for evangelism at work is with your own witness. The second mile is ‘Are there things that we can do in the workplace? How can we serve the people with whom we have contact so that it becomes intriguing, interesting, appealing?’ – but God is the evangelist! What a relief! Evangelism is what God has done in Christ. My job is to do the best I can to remove the obstacles that get in the way and to serve people in such a way that the Gospel becomes apparent. As on the Emmaus Road, the questions are, ‘What are you discussing as you walk along?’ and ‘Who are you looking for?’ Let the other person set the Agenda. The Christian faith is about the whole of life, so there should be common ground – issues like stress, long hours for men so a poor home life, relationships.

“We should live a life of prayer and be in a place of receiving. Can we create a space where a journey of faith can begin to take place? The biggest group of people with whom we have contact are the ones in the workplace. That is our mission field! In Acts Chapter 4, we read of people hoping that Peter’s shadow would fall on them. Does my presence bring a blessing?”



(Address on ‘Reading at Work’ at New Hope Community Centre, York Road, on 3rd March 2005)

One of our Caversham Ministers (who edits our website) is also keen on helping us to pray for people at work and on http://www.chmc.org.uk has included 'Prayers for the World of Work'.

Sally said...

Prayers for you as the new session begins.
As far as work goes I hope you will be pleased to note that the need for preaching about the importance and joy of work, and the dangers of compartmentalisation in our lives is the current theme at my training weekends with ERMC (Training Institution). We were encouraged to bring along pictures of ourselves at work, these remained on show all weekend as a celebration of God's gifts at work in our lives. It was interesting to see ourselves as not only pre-ordinands, but as teachers, Drs, farmers and accountants (to name a few).... it might just be a contemporary way of celebrating harvest!

Olive Morgan said...

Amendment. please - The website quoted is for Cheadle Hume Methodist Church! The correct website address should be www.cavhmc.org.uk.

[Perhaps you can correct this without adding another comment, and so prevent people wasting time connecting with the wrong site.
My apologies!]

Richard Saunders-Hindley said...

Hi Ruby. Thanks for doing the blog - it's great to read about what you're doing. Re theology of work, I preached on this a little while ago. I found a couple of resources really useful. You many have come across them already, but just in case, they are: "Church That Works" by James Thwaites (Authentic Lifestyle 2003); and Christians at Work (www.christiansatwork.org.uk). The London Institute of Contemporary Christianity also has some good material (http://www.licc.org.uk/).

I found it linked well with the "Our Calling" purposes, and I used the following headings: Discipleship (1 Peter 2:12), Worship (Romans 12:1, The Message), Service (Ephesians 6:5), Witness/Evangelism (Genesis 39:3), Fellowship/Caring (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Hope that's useful! Look forward to reading more about your VP-ing.

God bless.

Richard Saunders-Hindley

Methodist Preacher said...

Being a Christian in the workplace can always be difficult.

What many Christians find most difficult is not the actual work, its the small talk - Should we laugh at a slightly risque joke? What do we do when the dirty mags come round (something that was mentioned to me only this weekend about a Christian in an engineering shop)? Should we go for a drink with the rest after work or risk the accusation of being "stand-offish"? And for me a recent one - should we take part in the Grand National sweepstake?

On a wider scale where do we stand on that curse of the modern workplace, the office politics? It gets nasty out there and it is very easy to get sucked in.

My view has always been that we strive for excellence. I often used to be asked what it was like being a "Christian politician" (I was briefly a local councillor and an MEP). My eventual answer (it actually took some working out) was that I would strive to be a first rate politician, just as I would want to be a first rate plumber, or a first rate miner or a first rate nurse.

Christians should strive to be good at their job and a positive influence in the workplace. Where possible we should pray and share with Christianscolleagues - but being mindful that we don't in turn become a clique.

The workplace offers great opportunities for living a Christian life - one of the main reasons I've decided that I am going to delay retirement as long as possible.

Apart from anything else, isn't it nice to make money, to contribute, to make the best use of our God given skills, energy and enthusiasm.