Monday, 2 April 2012
Signs of the Kingdom?
The Lent gatherings in the parish having produced some creative reflections. We had a Mental Health Chaplain and an Industrial Chaplain to share what they had discovered through their work, and a couple of us from within the parish offered something similar ourselves around the issues of debt (outlined here a few weeks ago) and from involvement in the Heavy Metal scene.
The volunteer who has been developing and hosting a new parish website has put up some of this at http://www.westgrimsbyteam.org/2012lent2.html
I have played a small part in helping her remember who she is, what she values, and that she herself is of value. ‘Good news’, although we have not mentioned God’s name once in our conversation... It lies at the heart of my job to remind others that those with mental health conditions are people (people with a bipolar disorder, people with anxiety, and so on). They are a person first who has a mental health condition. The condition does not define them; it is not the total sum of them. Even the most difficult person who spits and shouts and lashes out is still a person. Kindness and care for the individual goes a long way. When Jesus heals the Gerasene demoniac, he does not make his healing a spectacle but takes him aside, asks his name, has him unbound, and sends him back into his community. He deals with the person.
Jesus taught about God’s kingdom breaking in around us, and led us to pray for its coming here as much as in heaven. We were reminded of the language of a foretaste - catching something of the flavour of a feast we are not yet at. We were reminded of the language of birth pangs - the labour pains involved as a new life is brought forth. We wondered whether the things we had been exploring for five weeks were telling us about the character of God’s kingdom, about savouring the hints of what it is intended to be, about how the moment it begins among us can be as traumatic as a difficult birth. Those who live among or minister with people with fractured mental health, in situations of debt, in the Heavy Metal scene, and at the work place had been reporting and reflecting on what this had meant to them. What we heard about were signs of God’s kingdom breaking in around us.
Meanwhile, the pheasants in Great Coates churchyard normally squawk away long before I get out a camera, but this pair were so intent on harassing each other that they didn’t bother about the potential threat from a human being very close by.