I am a Christian woman, who, with my husband is following a calling from God to live and work incarnationally and with intention in a multi-ethnic inner city area of Britain.
Skilled and with long experience in cross-cultural communication l am particularly interested in making meaning clear. This is the focus of much of the activity with which I am involved, through both paid work and ministry. However, I am learning that it is perhaps in the ‘ being with ‘ that most is understood.
As a fan of the Presence and Engagement ethos championed by the Church of England, I hope to use this blog to explore out loud what it takes, what it looks like and what it means to be presently enagaged in a place of considerable diversity.
The invitation is there for you to engage constructively with me …
A baptismal pool has been collected, put together and filled.
The candidate has been prepared. People have journeyed with him for years and supported in prayer and practical help as he has taken the rough road of abstinence to combat addiction.
Flowers have been bought.
Cards have been signed.
There is joyful anticipation as we wait to bear witness to a dying of the old self in the waters and a raising to new life in Christ.
The candidate walks through the doors and walks out again. He can’t do it.
Prayer is enjoined.
A friend is dispatched to seek him out.
She returns alone.
His family bear it with the stoicism of those frequently disappointed.
The vicar has to carry on.
‘He is risen!’ He cries out.
‘He is risen indeed! Hallelujah ! ‘ we respond.
The war is won but the battle still rages.
We hear of hope in the face of death.
The vicar’s barely stifled sob, drowned out by the music of last song, expresses our corporate pain.
This, the reality of church in the inner city.
Early in the morning twelve of us meet in the park at the centre of a high-rise block of council- housing. I say park, but there is little green space. Most of it is paved over for skateboarding or swings and slides. The motorway is our boundary on the north-side and a busy dual carriageway to the east. Around the park small ‘corner shops’ are opening up. We greet each other, we sing, we read about the women who discovered that
‘ He is not here. He has risen ‘
and we pray that those who surround us, who think we are talking ‘ nonsense ‘, will come to understand the meaning of what we seek to convey:
that ‘ the mystery hidden for long ages past ,is now revealed and made known…by the command of the eternal God , so that all nations might believe and obey Him.’ Romans 16:24-26
Good Friday and Christians from a range of churches in this area meet to walk quietly and determindly through the main street behind one carrying a large, heavy, wooden cross. Not an easy thing to do where Christians are in the minority and where the cross risks causing offence.
Some talk of reclaiming the public space for faith in this country but can we honestly say that Christians here ever really understood this? Isn’t it more accurate to say that this is one thing we are learning from engaging with our devout Muslim neighbours – that faith is not/cannot be a private affair. The truth of the words spoken earlier in the day ring clear:
When we talk only of Good Friday as what happened between me and God we reduce it and rob it of it’s full glory. What happened on Good Friday was BIG, very big. It was far, far beyond the confines of my individual concern. Salvation, redemption and reconciliation touches all of humanity, creation, and the cosmos. A private affair? Hardly!