Mondays are always quiet days and so it has been good to have the opportunity to be able to do a bit of reflecting on where I am at the moment.
I think relationships on my journeys are going well. I think people are starting to believe me when I say that I am not out to convert people. I think people are seeing that I am genuinely interested in them and their stories. The group I chat to mostly have noticed that, because I am there regularly, others approach me with questions and I think they think this is generally a good thing. One such question was about the possibility of lighting candles after a funeral. A guy I did not recognise asked if this was possible and I was able to help out. One of the regular people noted that if I ahd not been there regularly that person would have wanted to light a candle and spend some quiet time in the cathedral but would probably not do it as the cathedral seems quite intimidating. Me being ‘out there’ and able to tell the person what to do and where to go and so on, has been a help to this particular person.
I am also finding a downside of my everyday presence.
There are times when I do not know what to do. There are some incidents when jokes are made, especially about women coming in, or walking past, which are not the sort of comments I would make or encourage myself. I won’t go into them here but I am sure you can guess what I am on about. If it was people I knew well I would probably challenge them, but i do not feel I have a right to challenge these people because, afetr all, what right do I have to expect others to have the same values as me.
I don’t feel I should get up and move away, but I don’t wish to give the impression that I agree with some of the views. Sometimes it is possible to challenge with a witty remark, but sometimes this is not possible. Some have said to me ‘what would Jesus do?’ My answer to that is ‘I don’t flipping know!’
This is closely linked to the inclusivity discussion that the gatehring is having at the moment. If we have a value of being inclusive can we then put boundaries on the level of inclusivity. If we expect certain behaviours to be evident, or certain ‘standards’ to be reached are we really being inclusive?
In both the gathering and out in the world, how can we as Christians be both welcoming and inclusive and maintain integrity? Or does Christianity prevent the kind of all out inclusivity that I see Jesus promoting in the gospels?
Answers on a postcard would be really helpful as I reflect on this.