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A Skinny Fairtrade Latte in the Food Court of Life

  • As Others See Us...

    Recently I heard that, at a fairly significant gathering, someone had referred to the area in which I serve as "the latte drinking West End of Glasgow".  A comment that elicited suitable laughter from those who heard it - except those from our church.

    Well, yes, I do drink lattes (as the title of this blog has proclaimed for over twelve years!) and I do serve in the West End of Glasgow but...

    I have drunk lattes, purchased in an independent cafe, and carried up a treacherous flight of stone steps, with a 'shut-in' nonagenarian, whose life has been devoted to serving those on the margins of society, especially peopple with drug and alcohol dependency... And I regularly drink tea with some of them in a church hall.

    I have eaten pizza, and drunk tea, in a nationwide multiple, with newly arrived asylum seekers, bewildered and bemused by all that is happening for them.

    I have discussed Baptism with a convert from atheism, whilst supping tea in small cafe in one of the 'lanes' and Membership with assorted folk in tea shops.

    I have bought meals at the fish and chip dine-in for homeless people vulnerably housed in a B&B

    I have met EU nationals terrifed by the results of that referendum in cafes where I listened to their concerns.

    I have planned marriage ceremonies over pizza, discussed legal charity matters whilst munching scones, written prayers on serviettes and much, much more.

    So we drink lattes in the West End.  So what.  That doesn't make us posh, it just means we employ our privileges in the service of God's Kingdom.

     

    A footnote: I wish the person who uttered those words could see us on a Sunday morning and discover the incredible diversity of who we are.  I wish they could experience what I experience as the Lord's Prayer is intoned in multiple languages, and at various speeds.  I wish they could drink a cup of coffee from a hotel 'airpot', chat to our people, and be humbled by the stories they would hear.  I wish they could - but only if they could also come with an openness of heart to see how God is transforming us ever more into who we might be.

  • Something new everyday...

    This morning, I popped out to post some letters and, coming back indoors, stepped into the lift, selected my floor and waited. With a graunch and a lurch, it moved a bit, then stopped.  The door wouldn't open.  It wouldn't go up or down. Oh dear.

    Two good things (or maybe three)

    Firstly, I'm not claustrophobic, so althoguh it wasn't exactly nice to be stuck, I wasn't dsitressed.

    Secondly, I had my phone, which had a signal, and the maintenance company phone number if posted inside the lift.  After two failed attempts, I finally managed to get through to them.

    Meanwhile, the cleaners, who happen to be in a Tuesday, had notified one of my neighbours that someone was struck in the lift.  After much button pressing, doors opening between floors, lift moving up or down or just shaking, it finally returned to ground floor, and after another five minutes of so, I was able to open the door and escape.

    Quite a slautory lesson, methinks...

    What if I had been claustrophobic, or with someone who was? (I was alone in the lift)

    What if I hadn't had a phone, or hadn't got a signal, or there was no number to call? (After the first two calls  failed, I did attempt to phone someone else, before finally getting through)

    What if the cleaners hadn't been in to let my neighbour know? (The lift alarm doesn't seem to do anything other than squawk)

    Of course, 'what if' doesn't achieve anything of itself.  I just have to be grateful that, given the lift broke down with me inside, all the other factors worked in my favour.

    Maybe, too, it's a reminder that I shouldn't be so lazy, and just use the stairs in future!!

  • Amazing Grace...

    There's a saying that runs, 'lex orandi, lex credendi', sometimes to which is added, 'lex vivendi'.  I don't know Latin, but it means something along the lines of 'what I pray informs what I believe, which informs how I live'.  To put it another way: liturgy informs theology which shapes practice.

    Or, as one of my college tutors back in the day put it:

    The hymns/songs we sing shape what we believe, which affects our values and actions.

    Since I came across the idea, I have been pretty much convinced it's valid... however we read the Bible, and whatever we hear in sermons, it's the songs and hymns that stick in our memories, and so impact our thinking, believing and living.

    Often I will choose hymns/songs that are aspirational - that express the hope that inspires us, even when the reality has a long way to go.

    Two of our 'favourites' are 'All are welcome', and, 'For everyone born a place at the Table'.

    What I sing - what we sing - shapes what I/we believe and how I/we live out our faith.

    In recent months, we have been joined by numerous new folk, from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences, and it's wonderful.

    New children in Sunday School. More nationalities than ever. An overall decrease in our average age, at the same time as a noticeable increase in our average attendance.

    And still we will sing these songs. Because as they become more fully our experience, we realise how far we still have to go.

    And still we will sometimes get it wrong.

    But, by God's amazing grace, we are learning and growing, and becoming more of what we are called to be.