I was an au pair in Germany in 1991 and found it challenging at first, as the lady I worked for had a system where she washed the same colours together, so if I had a yellow top it could be some time before I got to wear it again. After a while I explained the situation and she was happy for me to wash my clothes together, rather than waiting for the next lime green load to go in! Living with another family was educational as growing up you think your family’s ways of doing things are the only way. The Germans were into recycling way earlier than in Britain, and I couldn’t get the idea of separating out rubbish initially. We made meringues once and I was a great source of humour, as I thought that meringues wouldn’t be cooked unless they were brown on top!
In my life now, I’ve found marriage to be pretty similar amalgamation of family traditions, and habits that in bringing up a family we’ve had to challenge and debate. Some I’ve kept, and some have been slung out, and some I’ve adopted from my friends families, such as receiving a score from my neighbour’s granny for my dance moves!
In church there are similar idiosyncrasies that different churches adopt. Some are great, some are awful. I love the upfront emotional impact of being part of an evangelical community, but not the idea that women or people who are gay are not equals. I love the music and ritualistic meditations that are part of the anglo-catholic tradition, but not the inability to talk about one’s feelings!
The message I am hearing at the moment is that none of this really matters in the end, it’s all boils down to our ability as Christians to represent God in the world. I keep getting the sense that we should all be like the kids in the ready-brek adverts of the 80’s, glowing on the inside, whilst running to school, or carrying a virtual candle that lights our way, that is discernable to someone who is looking. If there was some kind of God perspective, like a 3D filter that one could apply, there should be something different about those who are disciples. It should be based on hope, love and kindness, these should be the hallmarks. The net impact should be a walkway of candles lighting the way for others in the dark, stretching across the world. This shouldn’t be only available to certain groups of people, but it should definitely be prioritised for children, those who are sick, or heavy laden. This is from a passage where Jesus retreated on his own to teach his disciples…
Matthew 4 v3-12
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
11 Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake.
12 Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in Heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you.